The moves by Oregon's administrators to freeze salaries at July 2008 levels and take voluntary salary reductions during part of 2009 bucks a national trend of pay raising for college executives.

PORTLAND — Public university presidents in Oregon are bringing in smaller paychecks in attempts to help soften budget woes at their schools.

The moves by Oregon's administrators to freeze salaries at July 2008 levels and take voluntary salary reductions during part of 2009 bucks a national trend of pay raising for college executives, The Oregonian reported.

Paul Kelly, president of the Oregon Board of Higher Education, said the state's been fortunate that the salary has not been a "handicap in hiring the good people we've hired in the last couple of years."

Presidential salaries in the Oregon University System range from $414,397 for Richard Lariviere, president of the University of Oregon, to $176,929 for Mary Cullinan, president of Southern Oregon University. Christopher Maples, president of the Oregon Institute of Technology, volunteered to take a 9.2 percent pay cut, reducing his salary to $181,690.

Oregon State President Edward Ray and Lariviere of UO receive $180,000 of their salaries from their university foundations. Each also gets $114,300 from the foundations in deferred pay. President Wim Wiewel of Portland State gets $108,984 of his salary from his school's foundation. The presidents all get state-owned housing, and all but John Minahan of Western Oregon University get a car or a stipend for one.

Chancellor George Pernsteiner's salary remains unchanged from last year at $236,455. He also gets housing and $12,700 in deferred pay.

The highest paid president is Dr. Joseph Robertson, president of Oregon Health & Science University. Robertson earns $811,252 this year, down from $1,043,130 in 2008-09. He and other executives voluntarily took a 20 percent cut in base pay and declined all performance pay beginning Jan. 1 of last year.

Robertson gets paid more than other presidents because he oversees nursing and medical schools, hospitals, clinics and research institutes. OHSU operates outside the state university system as an independent public corporation with 12,600 employees and a $1.8 billion annual budget.

State Board of Higher Education leaders say Oregon presidents are underpaid compared with peers overseeing similar institutions.

"We need the right presidents at these universities, especially now, if we are going to improve the quality of higher education in this state," said Jim Francesconi, vice president of the board. "I really feel we have the right presidents, and we need to compensate them fairly. ... Pay is not the only factor, but it is an important factor in recruiting and landing the right people into this highly competitive environment."

In neighboring Washington state, Elson Floyd, president of Washington State University earned $648,000 last year. University of Washington President Mark Emmert was the second-highest paid public university president in the country with a total compensation of $905,000.