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Pay of area college leaders on par with regional peers

Salaries of the four Fargo-Moorhead college presidents may give some people sticker shock, but the pay and perks are on par with the region(see graphic).

With North Dakota State University President Joseph Chapman's new salary taking effect this week, The Forum examined what each of the local presidents earn.

Here are some of the findings:

•Chapman's deferred compensation package from the NDSU Development Foundation is now worth $515,000. He can receive the money after he retires or leaves NDSU. A year from now, his deferred compensation will be $590,000.

•Ann Valentine, president of Minnesota State Community and Technical College, with a campus in Moorhead, earns less than what North Dakota pays community college presidents with fewer campuses and smaller enrollments.

•Top salaries at Concordia College only recently became public. The college now discloses such information in the IRS Form 990. Previously, Concordia was among a minority of private colleges nationwide that claimed a religious exemption from filing the form.

Competitive salaries are important for attracting outstanding leaders, said Ron Offutt, chairman of Concordia's board of regents.

Concordia President Pam Jolicoeur's salary falls in the middle of other Minnesota private colleges, according to the most recent data available.

Jolicoeur received a 6.5 percent raise between 2006-07 and 2007-08. Her salary in 2007-08 was $94,000 more than the next-highest paid Concordia official.

No information is available prior to 2006-07.

"To attract someone of her caliber and experience is very rare," Offutt said. "The investment we have made in her leadership is clearly paying off for Concordia."

Both Jolicoeur and Chapman receive deferred compensation on top of their base salaries that will be paid out at a later date.

The NDSU Development Foundation began awarding Chapman the extra compensation in 2002.

The annual amount has increased several times, hitting a high of $150,000 in 2007-08. That year, Chapman made a top 10 list compiled by Chronicle of Higher Education for presidents with the most deferred compensation.

Jim Miller, the foundation's executive director, said the compensation was greater that year because Chapman's annual salary was $212,000, significantly less than what presidents of similar universities earned.

When the state Board of Higher Education adjusted president salaries in 2008-09 to make them more competitive, board members began limiting foundations' contributions to $75,000.

Miller said it's common for foundations to supplement the salary for state university presidents.

"You want to be able to hire and retain the best people that you possibly can," Miller said. "From that standpoint, we think it's extremely important that we're a partner in this whole process."