Market Study Project

NOVEMBER 2019: On November 22, CHRO Steve Patin sent an update on the market study to all UA employees including answers to frequently asked questions.

 On June 4, 2019, University of Alaska (UA) President Jim Johnsen announced that UA Human Resources completed the comprehensive compensation and benefits review study. All of the market salary data for faculty, staff and executives was collected and evaluated using CUPA-HR industry information. Individual letters were sent to all university staff, faculty, and executives with details of the study and employees' specific results in comparison to the higher education market and other relevant labor markets. 

At the September 12-13, 2019 UA Board of Regents meeting, the Regents approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 operating budget, which included $3.4M in compensation adjustments related to equity and market. The plan for these adjustments is to bring all university employees that are currently below 90% of the market median up to 90% over the next three years (FY20, FY21, FY22). Since additional funding was not provided by the legislature, the adjustments are to be funded through reallocation at each university.

Compensation Project Update - Message from President Johnsen Oct. 11, 2019
See updated FAQs below for more information.


Project FAQs

All salaries were annualized, meaning they reflect earnings for a full-time, 12-month appointment. Based on the position location a cost of labor adjustment was added to the annualized salary. The individual increases were based on the gap between the annualized salary and 90% of market median; then  the amount was divided in half. This amount was then added to the employee’s current salary for the adjustments.

Note: Staff adjustments were made within a step salary structure. The individual increases were based on the gap between salary and 90% of market median, then divided in half.  This amount was then correlated to a step so basic rounding principles were used to determine the appropriate placement.


Each staff member position was matched to the College University Professional Association of Human Resources (CUPA-HR) Administrative, Professional and Staff Surveys, which collect robust market data from institutions whose positions and budget levels are similar to UA.

CUPA-HR Faculty Survey (Data on Demand) and the Oklahoma State University (OSU) survey collect market data based on discipline and rank for each peer university. The Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code compares individual UNAC faculty to other faculty at peer institutions in the same discipline and rank.

We encourage faculty members to review either their current or most recent appointment letter to locate their CIP. If this information is not available, they can either consult with their Dean or Provost Office.

Academic departments should contact the Provost office if an error was found with their CIP.

Each officer and senior administrator position was matched to a College University Professional Association (CUPA) position description defined in either the CUPA HR Administration or Professional survey. Appropriate peers were selected for each university by identifying peers who award similar level degrees, have comparable student enrollment and faculty full-time equivalency (FTE), and operate with similar budgets. For those positions with an adequate CUPA market benchmark comparison, no adjustment to the market data was made. An adequate CUPA market benchmark comparison represents a strong match in terms of comparable responsibility and decision-making. 

No, we decided to continue applying the cost of labor because it is a better measurement of pay differentials between locations.  Specifically, the cost of labor is what a particular geographic market offers as the “going rate” or compensation for its jobs in comparison to other localities. It reflects the local supply and demand for labor in local markets as compared to the average across the United States.

Example: CUPA Market Median + Cost of Labor (Fairbanks = 12%) = Your overall Market Median
                                   $60,000 + $7,200 = $67,200

Yes. However, there are multiple factors to consider when making an offer, the new-found compensation information is only one of them. We encourage supervisors to consult with either the UA-HR Sr. Compensation Specialist or Director of Talent Acquisition prior to salary negotiations.