It is amazing that they don't quit more often:
During a panel discussion at the American Council on Education's 94th annual meeting, four college presidents described with some exhaustion the perils of a position that invites a constant spotlight. With one slip of the tongue, speaking to a lawmaker or even a parent at Wal-Mart, a president can be thrust into damage-control mode, said Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System.
"As a president, you can't think out loud," she said. "You have to be very careful with what you say and what you do. You are an official. You have no private life." ...
"The quality of life of presidents has declined," [Diana S. Natalicio, president of the University of Texas at El Paso] said. "Something's got to give."
But the pay is not too bad. Public college presidents earned a median total compensation of $375,442 in 2009-10, according to The Chronicle's most recent analysis. Private college leaders earned a median of $385,909 in 2009.
Sometimes I get whiny about the hassles associated with being department chair. And then I remember, oh right, I get paid more to do it.