Education pays–especially if you’re a top administrator, medical staffer or football coach at New York’s public colleges and affiliated hospitals.
The 100 highest-paid state government employees in 2017 worked for either SUNY or CUNY according to figures released Thursday by the Empire Center for Public Policy on its website SeeThroughNY.net.
The top earners included two State University of New York football coaches: Stony Brook’s Charles Priore at $418,219 and Buffalo’s Lance Leipold at $413,992.
The highest-paid employee on the state payroll was Carlos Pato, dean of the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn . His pay totaled $746,626.
Of the 20 top employees pulling in more than $500,000, 12 were from SUNY Downstate, the state hospital that underwent massive restructuring to help stem operating deficits.
One SUNY hospital administrator, Thomas Gray, VP for finance and CFO of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, had his base pay boosted by $225,000 — or 90 percent — to $475,000, according to Empire Center.
Three top CUNY officials were reported as having substantially higher salaries than previously reported in payroll records, according to the Empire Center. But the higher compensation was a result of bureaucratic underreporting of their full salaries by CUNY, not increases in pay.
CUNY Chancellor James Milliken was paid $670,000, Ayman El-Mohandes, dean of CUNY Graduate School of Public Health, made $415,000 and Mitchell Wallerstein, president of Baruch College, pulled in $400,000.
Critics of state spending slammed the increases and complained New York taxpayers are not getting the bang for the buck.
“Just because they’re highly paid doesn’t mean they’re the best of the best. There’s no accountability and there’s no responsibility,” said state Conservative Party chairman Mike Long.
“The salary bases of these institutions have gone over the edge. When you have an institution like Downstate Medical Center that’s in financial trouble, I don’t know how you justify those salaries. ”
The CUNY Board of Trustees last June boosted the salaries of its top administrators and defend the action as keeping compensation competitive with rival private colleges.
“The Board of Trustees recognizes the importance of recruiting and retaining innovative innovative, highly competent, accountable, ethical and visionary leadership,” CUNY said in its resolution.
SUNY and CUNY defended the salaries.
“SUNY works hard to strike the appropriate balance between cost effectiveness and needing to attract and retain leadership and faculty to ensure the highest quality education for our students. SUNY continuously conducts internal reviews to ensure we are offering competitive and market-based salaries,” said SUNY spokeswoman Holly Liapis.
She also said many doctors in SUNY’s teaching hospitals have clinical practices whose office salaries are included in the figures.
CUNY spokesman Frank Sobrino said, “There were no raises. CUNY’s Trustees passed a sweeping series of reforms to create greater transparency and accountability in response to concerns raised by the State Inspector General. All executive compensation is now paid through tax-levy sources.”