Increase in Higher Ed Salaries

Survey shows recent surge in administrators’ earnings

Salaries for administrators at colleges and universities across the nation are increasing at their fastest rate in five years, according to a recent survey published by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.

The median salary for senior-level administrators at higher education institutions rose by 4 percent this past year, compared to increases of 3.5 percent in 2005 and 3.3 percent in 2004.

Also, in almost all job categories, salaries for administrators at public institutions showed a greater increase than the salaries of their private school counterparts.

This is a reversal of the trend shown in the 2005-2006 edition of the annual survey, when private institutions showed a greater salary increase for administrators than public schools.

This reversal may reflect improving economic conditions, said Andy Brantley, chief executive officer of the association that conducted the survey.

“The economies of most states did better this year than they have in the last several years,” he said. “As the economy improves, there is more flexibility for states to dedicate more resources to university employees.”

The salary increase was especially notable for executive positions, where public institutions saw median salaries rise 4.9 percent, as compared to 4.4 percent at private institutions.

The survey also highlighted trends aside from the increases in administrators’ salary.

Women are more likely than ever to hold high-level administrative positions. According to the survey, females now represent one-third of all chief academic officer and provost positions and over one-third of all dean of arts and sciences positions.

In particular, women are now also more likely to serve as deans in engineering departments. They now represent 11.5 percent of all engineering deans, a 5.7 percent increase from 2002-2003.

The study also showed that chief academic officers serve for a median length of three years, a fact that Brantley said was unsettling.

“From an employment standpoint, particularly at a higher education institution which is by nature complex,” said Brantley, “it takes a certain amount of time to understand the culture and administrative processes. There should be concern over a high rate of turnover.”

The percentage of minority incumbents also rose in almost all categories, from 14.4 percent in 2002-03 to 17.9 percent in 2006-2007.

The data published in the survey was pooled from 73,000 paid administrators at 1,329 institutions nationwide, and documented salary changes in 272 different paid positions. Harvard did not participate in the survey this year.