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For Some University Presidents, It Pays to Be Private

David Leebron of Rice University is the state's highest-paid president of a private college, pulling down more than $1.5 million in 2009, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Five other private college or university presidents in Texas made more than $800,000.

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As it did roughly this time last year, The Chronicle of Higher Education released its salary database for the presidents of private colleges and universities over the weekend. While the results for Texas' campus chiefs aren't as high as in the Chronicle's 2010 roundup, many still post big numbers.

In 2008, five private university presidents in Texas earned more than $1 million. In 2009, according to the latest data, only Rice University President David Leebron makes it to seven digits, with a haul of $1,517,854. That puts him at 13th nationally. The biggest earner in the country that year was Constantine Papadakis, president of Drexel University in Pennsylvania, with $4,912,127.

While they aren't quite keeping up with the Papadakises, the six highest-paid presidents of private institutions in Texas all make more than $800,000. University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, by comparison, is paid $750,000 a year for overseeing a network of nine academic universities and six health institutions.

In order, the state's top six are Leebron, R. Gerald Turner of Southern Methodist University ($948,998), Victor Boschini of Texas Christian University ($886,515), George Martin of St. Edward's University in Austin ($882,751), Gary Cook of Dallas Baptist University ($834,224) and John Brazil of Trinity University in San Antonio ($805,963). Brazil left that post in 2010.

Cook also ranks high on the national list of presidents whose compensation is a significant percentage of the school's overall budget. His pay accounts for 1 percent of Dallas Baptist's total expenditures.

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