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As he enters his third year of leadership, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel was given another pay raise Thursday afternoon.

The Board of Regents voted unanimously to increase Schlissel’s annual salary by 3 percent and to add an annual payment of $100,000 to his retirement fund at their September meeting.

Schlissel’s salary will increase $772,500 a year to $795,675 starting retroactively on Sept 1. Schlissel received an identical pay raise of 3 percent at last year’s September Regents meeting. The five-year contract he signed in 2014 provides for discretionary annual pay raises.

During the meeting, Regent Andrew Richner (R–Grosse Pointe) gave Schlissel a favorable performance review and thanked him for his expansion of the University’s capacities.

“The University is now the largest employer in the state,” he said. “By every important measure, the University of Michigan is doing exceptionally well under your leadership.”  

Richner went on to propose the pay raise in light of Schlissel’s handling of tuition affordability and health system performance, among other matters, in his second year in office.

“Demand for a University of Michigan education is again at an all time high,” he said. “Increases in financial aid have actually reduced the average cost of attendance…this is no sophomore slump.” 

The regents’ decision comes after a comprehensive personnel review, including surveys of executive pay grade at similar universities. Schlissel’s base salary of $750,000 is significantly larger than the national average of public university presidents’ annual compensation, which is $431,000, as reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

At the University, Schlissel’s salary ranks fourth highest, following Marschall Runge, executive vice president for medical affairs, and Daniel Durkin and Timothy Drevno, both assistant football coaches. His earnings outpace those of President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman, who drew just over $603,000 a year in base salary, though Coleman’s other benefits totaled $760,196, making her at the time, the fifth highest paid public university president in the country. Coleman regularly donated raises to a variety of University programs. 

Regent Laurence Deitch (D–Bloomfield Hills) commended Schlissel for his open-minded leadership, saying he has been able to bring groups together on campus while maintaining integrity.

“Anybody who works with President Schlissel knows he’s not shy about his opinions,” he said. “But he’s willing to listen to other ideas and have a dialogue and be respectful, and I think it’s a major contributing factor to our success.”   

Regent Denise Ilitch (D–Bingham Farms), concurred with Deitch.

“You are our Miguel Cabrera,” she said, comparing Schlissel to the Detroit Tigers baseball star.

According to the Chronicle, compensation for presidents of public colleges has increased around the country by an average of 4.3 percent since 2014. Schlissel’s new salary does not place him among the top 10 highest nationwide, with the highest being Renu Khan, president of the University of Houston, who earns $1.3 million a year. However, the Chronicle does not take into account the housing and transportation provided to Schlissel by the University, which not all college presidents receive.

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