By Jesse Roman
SALEM — Salem State University's top earners last year made sizable sums compared to the average citizen, but pay levels pale in comparison to the money that officials at the University of Massachusetts made.
Salem State University President Patricia Meservey is the school's highest-paid employee, earning $232,590 annually. That's an increase over the roughly $215,000 she made last year, according to state figures.
Each of the top 42 wage earners at the school earn six-figure salaries, according to figures provided by the school. The seven best-compensated employees each make in excess of $150,000.
In addition to Meservey, those at the top are the assistant presidents, deans of various schools, the chief information officer and the provosts. The top-earning professor is Douglas Larson, who teaches accounting and finance and makes about $112,000 per year.
The salaries at Salem State are in line, but on the high end, with what the highest-paid administrators make at other state universities. The top 10 highest-paid employees at Salem State earn a combined $1.71 million annually. That falls just below Bridgewater State, which pays its top employees a combined $1.72 million.
Topping the list by a huge margin is the University of Massachusetts. The top 10 earners there combine for a yearly wage of $4.4 million.
Meservey, however, is only the fifth highest-paid school president among the state universities; the presidents at Bridgewater State, Fitchburg State, Massachusetts College of Art and Westfield State all make more than she. University of Massachusetts President Robert Caret earns the most, making $425,000 annually.
Salaries at the state's universities are negotiated on a state level between unions and state officials, according to Karen Cady, the senior director of university relations at Salem State.
"Most of the positions here on campus are union positions, and the salary ranges are negotiated via the statewide union," she said.
Salary range is based on an employee's experience, on the position being filled, and on how needed or in demand their skill set.
"It's economics 101," Cady said.
The lone exception is the university president, who negotiates her contract with the school's board of trustees.
Combined salaries of the top 10 wage earners at state universities
School, Combined salary
University of Massachusetts, $4.43M
Bridgewater State University, $1.72M
Salem State University, $1.71M
Westfield State University, $1.54M
Massachusetts College of Art, $1.48M
Fitchburg State University, $1.45M
Framingham State University, $1.44M
Worcester State University, $1.4M
Massachusetts Maritime Academy, $1.30M
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, $1.21M
Source: Massachusetts Open Checkbook website