Monday, December 8, 2014

Behind RPI's Highly Paid Chief, Tales of an Imperial Air and Cowed Staff

The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 8th, 2014

In the official history of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Shirley Ann Jackson will very likely be remembered as a trailblazing president, whose unparalleled vision and determination transformed a respectable regional private college into a nationally recognized research institution.
This is the reason, her supporters on the governing board say, that Ms. Jackson earned $7-million in 2012, making her the nation’s highest-paid private college president that year, the most recent for which federal tax forms are available. This is the explanation, her backers say, for Ms. Jackson’s perennial position as a front-runner in the college presidents’ pay race, routinely earning over a million dollars a year.
But Ms. Jackson has been a polarizing figure, clashing publicly with professors and battling behind the scenes with her cabinet members. To many people who have worked closely with her, Ms. Jackson’s well-compensated 15-year run as president is a striking example of the tremendous accommodations that some college boards are willing to make for leaders who present themselves as change agents.

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