Millionaires Club

Millionaires Club: Heads of University of Houston, UT and Texas A&M are best paid in the nation

Millionaires Club: Heads of UH, UT and A&M are best paid in nation

Dr. Renu Khator_August 2013_Marcy_Famous Houstonians Predict Your Future
Renu Khator, show in this 2013 photo, was the highest paid public university leader in the country in 2015. Courtesy of University of Houston

While college tuition continues to skyrocket, so do the salaries of the officials who head up the nation's institutions of higher learning — particularly in Texas.

Three of the top four most highly paid heads of public universities are in the Lone Star State, according to the most recent survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

University of Houston chancellor Renu Khator leads the list with a yearly compensation of $1.3 million while Texas A&M University at College Station president Michael K. Young is at No. 3, at $1,133,333 a year and University of Texas system chancellor William H. McRaven is at No 4, with compensation of $1,090,909. (All figures are for the 2015 fiscal year.)

To calculate "total compensation," the website includes base pay, bonus, deferred compensation paid out, and severance. Young and McRaven started their jobs in 2015, so their pay in the survey reflects only the portions of the year that they worked. Their salaries are expected to surpass Khator's this year.

Defenders of the high salaries note that they are needed to retain top talent and that the leaders have a wide range of duties. As chancellor, Khator oversees the UH system, which has four universities, with more than 70,000 students and an annual budget exceeding $1.6 billion. She is also president of the UH main campus. McRaven leads the University of Texas system, one of the nation's largest, with 14 institutions and 210,000 students.

Yet, the Houston Chronicle notes that "salaries at the top have increased much faster than most faculty and staff salaries. And the colleges are paying more to their top administrators, even as they make perennial pitches to the state for more education funding and charge students higher tuition and fees to attend." Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has blasted Texas college leaders for raising tuition by 147 percent since 2003.

In 2015, Khator's pay was 169.9 times the median tuition, while Young's pay-to-tuition ratio was 117. Former University of Texas chancellor William Powers's compensation was 52.6 times the median tuition.