Admiral McRaven to Become Chancellor of U Texas System at Record Salary

Just this morning I dug in to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s brand new annual almanac.

Once a year this small tome arrives with updates everything from enrollment data, to college financial data and faculty pay. I have to admit that I stopped briefly checking on the backgrounds on this year’s new college presidents.

  • Over 1/3 of presidents appointed this year are women.
  • Nearly 70% were promoted from within their institution.
  • 8% of them came from a “noncollege” position.


That caught my imagination — were these former state officials taking taking plumb assignments before they retire? Or renowned judges or CEOs taking over law or business schools? This sounded like the most interesting route to academic leadership.

So, I was especially interested in the appointment of Admiral William H. McRaven, the head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, to be the next chancellor of the University of Texas System.

This evening I happened to be having dinner with two military officers, both of whom immediately knew Admiral McRaven. They suggested his recent graduation address at his alma mater, University of Texas in Austin just might be the “best graduation speech ever“.  Its an inspirational address conveying lessons he learned in SEAL training.

Reeve Hamilton from the Texas Tribute notes:

Upon taking office, McRaven will instantly become one of the highest-paid public university system leaders in the country. According to system officials, McRaven’s annual salary will be $1.2 million. Additionally, $400,000 in deferred compensation will be set aside each year. He will be eligible for up to $300,000 in bonuses each year and will receive a one-time payment of $300,000 to help with his move to Austin. At the end of 2018, if he serves out the length of his contract, he will receive a $300,000 bonus.

Let’s see if I follow: base salary of  $1.2 million, with an annual bonus of 300k, and $400 in additional deferred compensation — and $300k to help with his move to Austin. That sounds like $2.1 million in the first year, assuming bonus. And four years, there’s an extra $300k bonus. Does that sound rich?

To put this in perspective – Chancellor McRaven will likely make more than twice his successor’s pay, Francisco Gigarror, who himself netted $815,833, as the fourth highest paid executive of a statewide state university. McRaven’s pay package would make the University of Texas Chancellorship the highest paid such role in the US.

Combat pay
Considering the recent political turmoil in the UT system, which embroiled the current Chancellor and Texas Governor, Rick Perry, that pay bump might be considered hazard pay. McRaven brings experience leading a billion-dollar entity, and a top drawer command presence. His skill building rapport with Congress and the White House may make him an especially qualified candidate to usher in a new era of cooperation at UT.

Not that I’m keeping track, but few roles in public leadership pay in excess of a million dollars annually, let alone two million.

Does it seem incongruous that the Governor of Texas or that the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court are paid a fraction of this sum? Its interesting to me that this role is among the best compensated post in federal or state government. What’s your take on this?

1 Response to "Admiral McRaven to Become Chancellor of U Texas System at Record Salary"

  • Jenna Kristensen

    August 23, 2014

    Interesting thoughts. As a Longhorn, though, I look forward to bringing a person with his depth of experience to run the 9 academic institutions (UT San Antonio, Ut Arlington, etc in addition to the main campus in Austin) and 6 medical schools that are part of his remit. And, when you consider that the UT football coach makes $5 million per year, it seems like a bargain for someone who can stand up to the ridiculous legislators we have in Texas. Let’s hope that he will fight hard for the integrity of University system’s quality education in the face of those Yahoos.

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