Press Release

April 15, 2020

Exploring the Presidential Pipeline in CUPA-HR Administrators in Higher Education Annual Report

As colleges and universities strive to create a more equitable and representative workforce, there has been increased emphasis on recognizing and exploring the pipeline that leads to leadership positions. The 2020 CUPA-HR Administrators in Higher Education Annual Report, released today, highlights data collected on the pipeline for three key positions: institution president/CEO, provost/chief academic officer and chief human resources officer.

Currently, fewer than one-third of presidents (32 percent) are women, and 14 percent of presidents are racial/ethnic minorities. The data show strong possibilities to increase representation of women as presidents, but much less opportunity to increase representation of racial/ethnic minorities. Forty-five percent of provosts, 57 percent of vice provosts and 45 percent of deans are women, but only 13 percent of provosts, 14 percent of vice provosts and 16 percent of deans are racial/ethnic minorities.

For current presidents, the most common previously held positions were president and provost. Fewer than one in 10 presidents were hired from outside higher education. Most had their previous appointment at another higher ed institution, and nearly a third were promoted internally.

Other findings from the 2020 CUPA-HR Administrators in Higher Education Annual Report include:

  • Administrators as a whole received a 2.73 percent increase in pay in the past year, a figure that is higher than the inflation rate and exceeds the increases of faculty, professionals and other staff.
  • Salaries for administrators are highly variable depending on institutional classification.
  • Administrators at doctoral institutions are generally paid higher salaries than those at other types of institutions.
  • Women are better represented in lower-level, lower-paying administrative positions than in top executive positions. Women are paid less than men in nearly all administrative positions. Similarly, racial/ethnic minorities are better represented in lower-level administrative positions.
  • The salary gap between men and women is generally higher at older ages than at younger ages. In addition, the salary gap is present at all levels of experience, from those who are relatively new hires to those who have been in their position for more than 10 years.

A total of 50,690 administrators were reported for this year’s survey by 1,160 higher education institutions. The 202 positions surveyed include top executive officers; senior institutional and chief functional officers; institutional administrators; heads of divisions, departments and centers; academic deans; and academic associate/assistant deans.

To learn more about the Administrators in Higher Education Survey, read the overview. Salaries, demographic comparisons and detailed trend information are available in the full report.


CUPA-HR is the recognized authority on compensation surveys for higher education, with its salary surveys designed by higher ed HR professionals for higher ed HR professionals and other campus leaders. This marks CUPA-HR’s 53rd year of data collection on higher education administrators, the longest-running of CUPA-HR’s surveys. Learn more about CUPA-HR research.

CUPA-HR is higher ed HR. We serve higher education by providing the knowledge, resources, advocacy and connections to achieve organizational and workforce excellence. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and serving over 30,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 2,000 member institutions and organizations around the country and abroad, the association offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information.

Contact Information
Erin Rosolina
Marketing Manager – Communications and Marketing


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