College presidents typically have blamed personnel costs for the dramatic increases in tuition in recent years. But a new report from the Chronicle of Higher Education suggests that one group of personnel pushing up the costs is the presidents themselves. The report also surprisingly notes one group of personnel that is not generally driving up costs: professors.

In its (subscription required) annual survey of campus executives’ pay, the Chronicle Monday reported that the median compensation of presidents at public universities was $427,400 last year, a gain of 35 percent over inflation in five years. Presidents at the big private universities collected slightly more than $527,000 in 2006 (the latest year for which private school salaries are available), up almost 19 percent more than inflation in five years. Presidents of smaller schools that don’t have big research departments tended to make much less. The median presidential pay at schools that mostly offer just bachelor’s and master’s degrees was $226,000.

No wonder college grads have to treat student loans like 30 year mortgages.