Compensation for private college presidents has continued to drift upward, while the number crossing the $1 million barrier — a signal of prestige, and a magnet for criticism — held steady at 36, according to a new survey.

The latest annual compilation by The Chronicle of Higher Education covers data from 2010, due to lag time in the release of federal tax information. That year, median compensation for the 494 presidents in the survey — leaders of institutions with budgets of at least $50 million — was $396,649, or 2.8 percent higher than in last year’s survey. But median base salary fell slightly, by less than 1 percent.

The highest paid was Bob Kerrey, who was president of The New School in New York until December 2010 before returning to Nebraska, where he made an unsuccessful run to return to the U.S. Senate. Kerrey’s total compensation was valued at just over $3 million. His base salary was just over $600,000, but he received the rest in the form of a retention bonus, deferred compensation and other benefits.

The highest-paid in 2010 who is still on the job is Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, who was No. 2 at $2.34 million. The highest base salary went to John Sexton of New York University and totaled $1.24 million.