CUPA-HR News, February 28, 2017 —

Eighty-Six Percent of College and University Administrators Are White.

The U.S. minority population continues to grow, but the number of ethnic minorities holding top jobs in colleges and universities is not keeping pace.

According to new research from CUPA-HR, while there has been a steady increase in the representation of minorities in higher education administrative positions over the last 15 years, the increase in the minority population in the U.S. and the increase in the percentage of college-educated minorities greatly outpace these numbers.

The study did find, however, that when it comes to salaries, minority administrators as a whole in higher ed are paid equitably in relation to their non-minority (White) colleagues.

CUPA-HR’s new research brief, Pay and Representation of Racial/Ethnic Minorities in Higher Education Administrative Positions: The Century So Far, provides a look at how higher education has paid minorities in administrative positions from 2001-2016, as well as the representation of minorities in top leadership positions in colleges and universities nationwide.


– The underrepresentation of minorities in higher ed administrative positions mirrors that of private industry, where 87 percent of senior-level executives are White.

– One factor that may explain the large gap between the U.S. minority and higher ed administrator populations is that the labor pool for these positions is constrained to those individuals who possess at least an undergraduate degree and often a graduate degree in their field. The proportion of minorities who have the college degree needed for administrative positions is much lower than the percentage of Whites holding a college degree. For example, in 2015, the percentage of non-minorities who had a college degree was 33 percent, whereas the percentage of minorities with a college degree was 21 percent.

– Higher education is more progressive than private industry when it comes to pay equity for minorities – Black and Hispanic men with college degrees earn only 80 cents to the dollar of what White men earn in private industry, but in higher ed administration as a whole, minority pay matches non-minority pay dollar for dollar.

– The country’s Western and Southern regions hire a greater percentage of minorities into administrator positions, likely in part because there are greater numbers of minority college graduates in those regions. Based on the minority college graduate population in the region, the Northeast is the least likely region for a racial/ethnic minority to occupy a higher ed administrative position.

– Representation of racial/ethnic minorities varies widely when looking at select executive positions. Positions with better than average representation include the chief officers of legal affairs, human resources and student affairs. The position with the worst minority representation is chief development officer.

– By region, the Midwest and Northeast both exceed pay equity for minority administrators. These are also the regions with the lowest minority representation in these positions. Thus, it appears that in regions where fewer minorities occupy higher ed administrative positions, there may be a special effort to attract and retain them by offering a competitive salary.

– When looking at the data as a whole, in the senior-most executive positions, racial/minority pay exceeds that of non-minorities.


Read the full brief at

Cøllege and University Professional Association for Human Resources (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. Learn more about CUPA-HR research.