Press Release

March 14, 2016                                                          

Contact Information:
Missy Kline
Content Manager – Communications and Marketing 

Higher Ed Leaders See Modest Salary Increases This Academic Year
Males Outearn and Outnumber Females in Most Administrative Positions

While senior leaders in higher education did see small pay raises this academic year, the overall median base salary increase was the lowest since 2011-12. Data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) 2015-16 Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey show that the median base salary increase this academic year for administrators for all institutions combined was 2.1%; last year it was 2.4%, and had been rising steadily for the past four years. For executive-level positions, males earn a higher median salary than females in all but three of the positions reported, and males outnumber females in the majority of administrative positions.

Commenting on the meager increase, CUPA-HR President and CEO Andy Brantley said, “Colleges and universities continue to struggle to balance the need to minimize tuition increases and the need to adequately acknowledge and reward outstanding employee performance, as evidenced by the small pay increases awarded again this year.”  

Other Findings

  • Private colleges and universities are back on top when it comes to pay raises for senior leaders. Administrators in private institutions saw a median base salary increase this academic year of 2.2%, compared to a 2.0% increase for those in the same positions at public institutions. Publics had outpaced privates for the past two years for pay increases for this group, but prior to that privates edged out publics for several years in a row.   
  • The median base salary increase for administrators at doctoral institutions this academic year was 2.5%; at bachelor’s and special focus institutions, it was 2.3%; and at master’s and associate’s institutions, it was 2%.
  • Specific Median Base Salaries: 
    The median base salary for a CEO at a single institution ranged from $190,000 at associate’s institutions to $452,370 at research universities. The median base salary for a chief academic officer ranged from $132,940 at associate’s institutions to $353,796 at research institutions. Other executive salaries reflected similar differences based on institution type. The highest paid deans were those in the areas of medicine, dentistry, law, public health, and engineering.
  • Public and private institutions differ substantially in the salaries they pay for certain executive positions. The widest gap exists in the position of president, with private institutions paying nearly $50,000 more than public institutions.
  • Males occupy the overwhelming majority of executive positions in higher ed. Male presidents outnumber female presidents 2 to 1. In fact, the only executive-level position in which females occupy the overwhelming majority of positions is that of chief HR officer, in which females outnumber males nearly 3 to 1.
  • In 12 of the 15 executive positions reported, males earn a higher median salary than females. The highest salary gap is in the position of chief financial officer, in which females earn $.77 for every dollar that males earn.

Closing the pay gap between men and women in leadership roles must be a priority for higher education, as should bringing more women into the leadership pipeline,” said Brantley. “Our hope is that these gender disparities related to pay and position will lessen with each year moving forward.” 

Findings from the 2015-16 Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey reflect the salaries of 53,981 job incumbents in public and private institutions nationwide. Salaries were reported by 1,180 institutions for 190 selected positions, mostly at the director level and above.

Visit the CUPA-HR website to order results and to see more data from the 2015-16 Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey.

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 more than 20,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 1,900 member 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.  

CUPA-HR is the recognized authority on compensation surveys for higher education, with its seven salary surveys designed by higher ed HR professionals for higher ed HR professionals and other campus leaders.