The Daily Gamecock

USC President Harris Pastides' pay among highest in SEC

USC president makes $540,000 each year plus house, car

USC President Harris Pastides was the 28th highest paid chief executive of a public university in 2009-2010 with a total compensation of $539,458, according to numbers released by the Chronicle of Higher Education last month.

Total compensation comprises base pay, bonuses and deferred compensation paid. Pastides is also provided a house on the Horseshoe, a car and social club dues.

Pastides’ compensation makes him the second-highest paid chief executive in the SEC. Only University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa President Robert E. Witt makes more, ranking 19th in the nation with a total compensation of $592,161.

However, Alabama and Louisiana State University both have separate university system leaders who receive more than Pastides. USC saves money by paying Pastides to be both the system and Columbia campus president, but the heads of USC’s perimeter campuses each have separate salaries.

In comparison, University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. ranks 3rd in the SEC and 33rd in the nation with a total compensation of $511,046, and University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen ranks 4th in the SEC and 38th in the nation with a total compensation of $491,120. Clemson University President James F. Barker ranks 80th in the nation with a total compensation of $400,000. Clemson is part of the ACC.

“You need to pay your chief executive officer a comparable salary to other chief executives in order to retain them,” said University of Kentucky spokesman Jay Blanton. “We did a compensation study that suggested we are paying our president significantly less than the pay is for comparable institutions.”

Mack Whittle is the chairman of the USC board of trustees’ compensation committee that determines Pastides’ annual salary.

“An independent third party does an analysis of all the salaries of what we consider to be peer universities, and they look at base cash salary, deferred compensation and other perks and benefits,” Whittle said. “We look at what the median is, and we try to pay him the median of his peers.”

Whittle said the University Foundation, using private money, funds about half of Pastides’ salary. The other half, which Whittle estimated at $274,000, is paid by the state.

Some students have said the size of Pastides’ salary means he can’t ask for more funding from the state without sounding hypocritical. They’ve also expressed concern that those private dollars could be better spent.

“I think as the president of the university he deserves a high salary, but it could be cut in lieu of better facilities and programs at USC,” said Andrew Farmer, a second-year hotel, retail and sports management student.

But first-year English student Olivia Wicker said Pastides deserved it.

“He’s definitely a good president,” Wicker said.

USC spokeswoman Maragret Lamb said Pastides’ salary was deserved based on the scale of his responsibilities.

“Pastides serves as a head of a system with eight campuses reporting to him, unlike any other college president in South Carolina,” Lamb said.

Pastides also hasn’t has a raise since becoming president on Aug. 1, 2008.

Whittle said Pastides was valuable due to his dual position and more than 10 years of experience with the university.

“I think we’ve got a bargain,” Wittle said.