OREM — Salaries of college presidents are high in Utah, although they pale in comparison to their colleagues nationally.

University of Utah President Michael Young makes $331,812 — the highest among all public college and university presidents in the Beehive State — well above the average Utah salary of $37,700.

But Young's earnings — the salary figure does not include medical and retirement benefits, a $1,662.50 monthly housing allowance and a $3,600 yearly car allowance — are puny in comparison to the earnings of William Brody at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, who received $1,938,024 in total compensation.

The Chronicle of Higher Education found, in its annual survey of salaries for all public and private schools, eight presidents of public schools earned $700,000 or more during the 2005-06 school year, six more than the previous year. Presidents at private universities can receive even more, with a dozen earning $1 million or more, including benefits.

Salaries of public school presidents are a matter of public record. Salaries of private school presidents can be obtained through an IRS form the colleges file for nonprofit status.

At Westminster College, that form showed President Michael Bassis earned $200,000 in salary and $56,313 in benefits. The most recent form available was for 2005.

Schools owned by churches are exempt from disclosing salaries of their presidents. And at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, officials wanted to keep President Cecil Samuelson's earnings under wraps, citing the law as the reason for not disclosing it.

Salaries at Utah's public colleges and universities are determined by the governor-appointed Utah Board of Regents. They are based on current salary, performance reviews by an objective panel, market variables and any increases the Utah Legislature gives other public employees, said Amanda Covington, spokeswoman for the regents.

"We're definitely not at market, our presidents are below that for the most part," Covington said. "I know the commissioner (of higher education) has worked to bring them more in line with their peers."

The report indicated that college presidents' salaries are increasing at a higher rate than inflation.

But at Utah Valley State College, students, many of whom said they were paying their own tuition, seemed unfazed by President William Sederburg's $181,216 income.

"That's great for him, and he's not making as much as (other Utah presidents), said Christina Clark, a sophomore studying elementary education. "Especially once we become a university, he should make what the other guys are making."

UVSC will become a university July 1, 2008.

The report showed that of the 12 presidents earning $1 million or more in 2005-06, only three remain at their current institutions.

Richard Freeland, who stepped down in August 2006 at Northeastern University, was identified as the highest-paid president, with $2,887,775 in total compensation, including $2,373,285 in benefits. James P. Gallagher, who stepped down at Philadelphia University, had $2,557,219 in total compensation.

Several presidents earned substantially more because of retirement bonuses or deferred compensation, including Benjamin Ladner, who received $4.3 million in pay and benefits in fiscal 2006 from American University. Ladner stepped down following revelations of excessive personal spending of university money, and most of his compensation came from severance and deferred payouts.

Most college presidents don't earn nearly that much, but salaries at the most prestigious institutions are rising rapidly. At private research institutions, median pay is up 37 percent over the past five years to $528,105.

E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com