Utah university president salaries below the national average

Dec 11, 2018, 2:40 PM | Updated: 3:33 pm
University of Utah President Ruth Watkins, Athletic Director Mark Harlan and football Head Coach Kyle Whittingham conduct a press conference about the upcoming expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium at the stadium in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018.

The salaries for university presidents across the country increased by four percent from the year before, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Nationally, among public universities during the 2017-2018 academic year, a dozen university presidents have a salary of more than $1 million. Presidents of some private universities are known to have multi-million dollar salaries.

In Utah, there has been significant turnover in university presidential offices over the past two years. New hires mean new contracts at higher rates to match the current market rate of a university president.

A Utah university or college presidential salary is determined by the Utah State Board of Regents. The board sets a president’s salary based on market competitiveness and is designed to fall within the median range of their counterparts at similar universities.

The presidents of Utah’s eight public universities and colleges bring strong academic backgrounds to justify their hefty salaries. The salaries of presidents at private schools, such as BYU and Westminster College, are not publicly available.

The University of Utah

In 2018, the University of Utah saw the departure of its president, David Pershing, shortly after the controversial firing and eventual reinstatement of the director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Mary Beckerle. Pershing’s replacement is Ruth Watkins.

Watkins earned a doctorate degree in child language at the University of Kansas. She was a professor in the Department of Linguistics and Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Utah. Previously, Watkins was the director of the Callier Center for Communication Disorders in Texas. Her base salary is $537,245.

Utah State University

The president of Utah State University is geneticist Noelle Cockett. In 2017, Cockett replaced retiring Stan Albrecht, a sociologist. Cockett earned a doctorate degree in genetics from Oregon State University.

Cockett has an extensive background in researching the sheep genome to improve reproduction and increase resistance to parasites, according to a Utah State profile of her work. As president of Utah State University, Noelle Cockett earns $423,687.

Utah Valley University

The new president of Utah Valley University, Astrid Tuminez, entered the office in September. Tuminez is an alumna of BYU, Harvard University, and MIT.

Tuminez earned her doctorate degree in political science and government. She has worked as a senior research consultant for the U.S. Institute of Peace. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Prior to taking the helm at UVU, she was an assistant dean of Executive Education at the National University of Singapore.

Tuminez replaces Matthew Holland, a professor of political science, who left to become a mission president for the North Carolina Raleigh Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Tuminez receives a salary of $299,300.

Weber State University

Brad Mortensen will become the president of Weber State University at the beginning of 2019. He is a former policy and fiscal analyst. He was an associate for the National Center of Public Policy and Higher Education.

Mortensen has chaired the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Recently, he was the vice president of University Advancement for Weber State. When he takes the reigns as the new president of Weber State he will earn $299,300.

Southern Utah University

Scott Wyatt has been the head of Southern Utah University since 2014. He is a graduate of the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law.

Under Wyatt, SUU has been noted for significantly increasing retention rates. The increase was partly the result of its ASCEND program, which emphasizes increasing affordability and strengthening the culture and campus engagement at the school. As the president of SUU, Wyatt makes $274,000.

Dixie State University

The president of Dixie State University is Richard Williams. He has held the position since 2014. He is the founding dean of the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services at Indiana University. He holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from New Mexico State University.

Williams has been at the center of several high-profile events at Dixie State, including the firing of a tenured theater professor, some free speech issues, and a controversy surrounding a statue of Confederate soldiers on the Dixie State campus. He replaced Stephen Nadauld, who oversaw Dixie State reaching university status. As the president of Dixie State, Williams receives $257,760.

Salt Lake Community College

Deneece Huftalin is the president of the Salt Lake Community College. She has a doctorate degree in education, leadership and policy from the University of Utah.

Serving since 2014, Huftalin has worked to close the skills and education gap in Utah’s workforce, including involvement in the creation of the college’s 121,000-square-foot Westpointe Workforce Training and Education Center. As the president of SLCC, Huftalin earns $237,872.

Snow College

Earlier this year, Snow College announced the retirement of its president, Gary Carlston. He has led Snow College since 2014. Carlston is a former junior high school teacher, high school principal, and district superintendent. His replacement has not been officially announced. As president of Snow College, Carlston makes $213,187.


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Utah university president salaries below the national average