Even as the economy continues to falter and populist protests against “the 1 percent” sprout up across the country, many presidents of private colleges are making more money than ever — including those at several Baltimore-area schools.

Base salary for private college presidents rose 2.8 percent to $294,489 in 2009 (the most recent data available). If you factor in benefits, the median salary tops off at $385,909. And that’s just the median; many make much more than that, including 36 who earn upwards of a million dollars per year. Since 2000, presidential pay at the fifty wealthiest universities increased by 75 percent.

Johns Hopkins’s previous president, William R. Brody, has topped the list of highly-paid presidential earners before (although he came in second in 2009, mostly because the #1 president died and his life insurance policies got factored into the overall total); he made $3,821,886 that year. Hopkins’s current president made just under a million for his first year at the school.

Another Baltimore college president making more than a million was Kevin Manning of Stevenson University, who took home $1,491,655. That’s more than 16 times as much as the average full professor at Stevenson makes. (The average president made 3.7 as much as a full professor.) Meanwhile, the president of the University of Maryland joined other public university presidents at a recent meeting with President Obama to discuss ways to combat the rising cost of education.

The obvious question is: is it really worth it to pay these guys (and except for Joan Coley at McDaniel, they’re all guys around here) so much? According to the president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, college presidents are earning more money as their jobs get trickier; there’s “budgetary challenges, uncertainty about the sustainability of the traditional financial model, calls for further regulation, greater competition, growing student financial need, and consumer concerns about rising tuition” to deal with. Still, a 75 percent salary increase over 10 years — amid a recession no less — sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us. Your take?