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New College trustees grant Corcoran another pay bump

Written by on Sunday, October 22, 2023

And that makes him the highest-paid public university president. By far.

By Emy McGuire

Original Air Date: Oct. 20, 2023

Host: It’s official and permanent now: The tiny New College of Florida has the probably highest-paid president of any public university in this hemisphere, when you divide dollars by number of students. After the trustees voted for an improved pay package for Richard Corcoran during a Zoom meeting on Friday, WSLR News reporter Emy McGuire talked to an expert.

How Corcoran’s pay stacks up, as calculated by Billy Townsend

Emy McGuire: The New College Board of Trustees met virtually this morning, mainly to discuss Richard Corcoran’s new pay package as permanent NCF president.  His base salary now stands at an estimated $600,000 a year, not to mention perks and potential achievement and retention bonuses. 

James Finkelstein, an emeritus professor of public policy at George Mason University, has been researching university presidents’ contracts and compensation for over 20 years. 

James Finkelstein: This contract is worth over, potentially its full value is over $6.5 million cash value for the five-year period. If you include fringe benefits, it’s worth about $7.6 million for five years. 

EM: Finkelstein told me that this contract will make Richard Corcoran the second highest paid president in the state, only behind Ben Sasse, who is president of the University of Florida. UF is, of course, Florida’s flagship university for research, with a total of 60,000 students, compared to New College’s 730. Corcoran’s contract states that he will be eligible for certain performance bonuses each year. However, Trustee Grace Keenan and Trustee Amy Reid raised concerns that the eight performance standards listed on the contract are not measurable. This would make Corcoran’s bonuses subject to the board of trustees’ discretion. 

Trustee Ron Christaldi explained the presidential contract, emphasizing that the salary is an investment to prevent further turnover at the college, as well as to encourage Corcoran to perform as best he can.


But Finkelstein, the compensation expert, says this won’t work.

JF: There is this notion, more often with blind faith, that in order to get a better president you have to pay more to get the right person. In the corporate sector, they call that pay for performance. That is, the more you pay, the better performance you get. The fact of the matter is, the research that’s been done in the corporate sector suggests that not only is that not true, in fact, the opposite might be true.

EM: Trustee Keenan pointed out that Corcoran’s contract was only shared to the public 24 hours before the Board of Trustees meeting. Keenan made a motion to create a presidential review committee to address unachieved goals. She also posed a concern about how the New College Foundation would raise the additional money to be able to pay Corcoran, if he is awarded the performance bonus. That bonus could amount to $200,000 each year, which would total $1 million for the time period of the contract. 

JF: The president of new college is going to be making much more than the governor of Florida. He’s gonna be making almost three times what the President of the United States makes.

Reporting for WSLR New, this has been Emy McGuire.


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