Penn State’s Disgraced President Was The Highest-Paid Public-School President In The Country Last Year

What’s the opposite of “just desserts”?

Jason Minick, File / AP

Former Penn State University President Graham Spanier, who stepped down in November 2011 as a direct result of the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal and now faces criminal charges, made $2.9 million during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. That’s serious money, particularly for a guy who was disgraced during the course of earning it.

But what’s even more remarkable is that that $2.9 million was unrivaled by any other public-school president in the country during that same year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Chronicle’s survey found that, thanks to severance pay, retirement pay, and deferred compensation — a significant sum thanks to his 16 years as president — Spanier out-earned the next closest, Auburn’s Jay Gogue, by about $350,000. Spanier made approximately $2,558,000 of his $2.9 million thanks to these perks, which are traditionally written into presidents’ contracts but seem particularly egregious when they’re triggered by the kind of event that concluded Spanier’s career, i.e. resigning in disgrace. Adding another level of absurdity to this, Spanier remains on Penn State’s payroll: he was placed on paid administrative leave from a tenured professorship.

(Spanier claims to be innocent of the charges against him, which include endangering the welfare of children, obstruction, conspiracy, perjury and failure to properly report suspected abuse.)

Don’t hurt for the presidents who trailed Spanier, though. Median compensation during that fiscal year for public universities’ top leaders was $441,392.

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