The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Higher Ed Presidents Seeing More Take-Home Pay, But Fewer Perks

CUPA-HR’s 2017 Administrators in Higher Education Salary Report has been released, and data show that while salaries for college and university administrators increased this academic year, many saw cuts to their executive-only perks.

Higher ed administrators saw an average median base salary increase of 2.2 percent over last year. The percentage of institutions providing full subsidies for executive-only perks like housing, vehicles and club memberships dropped significantly over the year prior, likely due to ever-tightening budgets and cost-cutting measures.



Other Findings:

  • The median age for higher ed administrators is 53.
  • The median tenure for higher ed administrators is four years.
  • The average tenure for a college/university president is just under six years, which is shorter than the tenure for CEOs in private industry.
  • The highest salaries are generally made by administrators who have been in their current position for fewer than five years. Administrators who have been in their current positions for longer periods of time make lower salaries, which may explain why overall tenure for administrators is short.
  • More institutions are providing deferred compensation and performance-based incentives to executive vice presidents — last year, 13 percent of VPs received deferred compensation, and 2 percent received performance-based incentives; this year, these numbers are 25 percent and 11 percent.

Data also confirm the trends we observed in our recently released research briefs — suggesting more work needs to be done to recruit and retain diverse talent for leadership positions in colleges and universities nationwide.

This year’s survey collected data from 1,125 higher ed institutions on 49,619 incumbents in 191 executive and senior-level administrative positions.

Purchase results or read an overview of this year’s Administrators in Higher Education Salary Report.

For 50 years, CUPA-HR has been collecting salary data and fine tuning our surveys to ensure that the data we collect provides the intelligence higher ed institutions need to make mission-critical decisions. Learn more about CUPA-HR research.


The CUPA-HR national office will be closed July 4 in observance of Independence Day.