With much of the job growth at public colleges and universities going into administrative positions, the compensation packages for people filling those positions should be of concern.

With much of the job growth at public colleges and universities going into administrative positions, the compensation packages for people filling those positions should be of concern.

The Delta Cost Projects at American Institutes for Research reported in February that total employment in higher education increased by more than 25 percent between 2000 and 2012, as student enrollments climbed. Colleges and universities devote an average of 60 to 70 percent of their total spending to employee compensation.

Driving the increase in personnel, according to the Delta Cost study, was the creation of new professional administrative positions, while the colleges and universities tended to answer the need for additional instruction by hiring part-time faculty members.

For example, the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System reports that the number of full-time University of Arkansas employees classified as executive, administrative or managerial increased by 60 percent between 2001 and 2011, while full-time instructional faculty increased by 18 percent.

Fortunately, Arkansans have a new tool to watch such things. Act 321 of 2009 requires each state-supported college and university to file a report by July 1 with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education listing each administrator who received total compensation of at least $100,000 the previous fiscal year.

The law specifically requires the disclosure of not only salary information but also fringe benefits and compensation provided by private sources.

ADHE compiles the various reports and publishes a comprehensive document by July 15.

The institutions are also required to post their reports on their Web sites, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. When I asked a UA-Fayetteville officer where to find it, she referred me to an interactive database that is open and allows anyone to put together their own report, then download it in an Excel spreadsheet. That’s not really the required report, though.

I asked ASU officials the same question and received a link to the ASU report on the ADHE Web site, and I was able to download a PDF copy there. But the individual reports appear to be archived in a section requiring a user name and password. A subsequent question about whether the report is on the ASU Web site went unanswered, probably because of spring break last week.

I searched for "compensation survey" on the Web site of the next three largest institutions and did not find one.

However, I used the comprehensive survey from ADHE to build a database of all administrative personnel at Arkansas’ 2- and 4-year colleges and universities whose compensation packages totaled at least $150,000 in the fiscal year that ended last June 30. I excluded the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences because it’s a different sort of institution from all the others.

That narrows the total number of administrators from 683 at $100,000 or more to 265 at $150,000 or more.

Of those, UA-Fayetteville has the lion’s share — 118 — on its payroll. ASU-Jonesboro has the second highest number — 33.

Most of the state’s 22 two-year colleges have only one or two people at that level, but the chief executive at most of them makes above $200,000.

Complicating the report is that for purposes of this survey, all coaches are considered as executive, administrative or managerial. And Arkansas has plenty of coaches who made at least $100,000 in 2012-13.

In fact, when you rank the university administrators by total compensation, the top 10 are all coaches or otherwise involved in athletics, and 15 of the top 25 are.

The two leaders — UAF head football coach Bret Bielema and UAF head men’s basketball coach Mike Anderson — earned $5 million and $2.1 million, respectively, last year. Bielema alone made more by himself than the top 15 academic administrators did put together.

Not much of that was state revenue, though. Bielema’s state salary, plus fringe benefits, totaled only $180,422. The remainder came from UA athletic foundation funding, including $1.96 million to buy out his University of Wisconsin contract.

State education officials and the Legislature have limited control over salary levels paid by the colleges and universities. The Legislature sets a line-item maximum for a certain position, but state law allows the institute to pay up to 25 percent above that level for 10 percent of its employees. Private funds can then be tapped to supplement the state salary. However, the survey shows that practice is mostly limited to UA-Fayetteville and coaches at the largest universities.

Keep in mind, too, that this survey does not include faculty members, except for those whose duties are primarily administrative, such as a department chairman or dean of a college. According to the American Association of University Professors Arkansas survey for 2012-13, only one category had an average salary above $89,000 — full professors at UAF, who made an average of $111,500.

Putting aside the old issue of athletics versus academics, we can look at the most highly paid academic administrators and how they are paid.

At the top of the list was not a president or chancellor, but rather the dean of the UAF Sam M. Walton College of Business, Eli Jones. His overall compensation of $509,566, which ranked 11th overall, included about $150,000 provided through an endowment for the Sam Walton Leadership Chair, about half of which covered a housing allowance.

Next week we’ll go further down the list.

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Roy Ockert is editor emeritus of The Jonesboro Sun. He may be reached by email at royo@suddenlink.net.