Students launch university employee salary database

Students launch university employee salary database

Summary: Students at the University of Alaska have created a public database containing salary information of university employees.

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TOPICS: Legal, CXO, IT Employment
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Students at the University of Alaska have launched a public database which contains the university's employee salary records.

The salary database was designed in order to extend transparency of campus expenditure, especially within a time where students are feeling the pressure of rising tuition fees and living costs.

The system is the brainchild of the student team at the Sun Star student newspaper, published at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It is a publicly accessible tool that contains the base salaries of all employees at the university in 2011. The Sun Star's faculty advisor is Lynne Lott, an assistant professor in the UAF Journalism Department.

The student newspaper is funded by both advertising revenue and by a small share of student fees.

According to the University of Alaska's Human Resources department, the information is current up to April 2011. The collation and input of data took the students approximately eight months to complete, and required them to sift through over 6000 public documents given to them by the university.

The data is searchable in two main ways -- by an employee's name, or by group functions. If you choose a group search then you can pick additional fields such as job title, department and salary range -- from $0 to $300,000.

The data includes:

  • MAU (Major Administrative Unit -- UAF, UAA, UAS and UA)
  • Employee name
  • Title
  • Department
  • Base Salary
  • Initial Hire Date

There are several bugs in the system, for example, names with an apostrophe are currently unsearchable and results are not being returned for salaries over $300,000 -- these are currently being corrected. The database not include overtime, holiday pay, benefits or expenses information, so the 'true' remuneration of a staff member is not necessarily available.

There has been criticism of the project, including the suggestion that creation of a published list of employee salaries could become a root cause for friction in the workplace. Also, few people would necessarily want their earnings posted online in the public eye. Due to factors that are not included, such as overtime and expenses, figures input in to the system may also be misleading.

In light of increasing tuition fees, the students wanted to ensure that knowledge was available in terms of where the additional revenue is going. UA fees have doubled since 2001, and a 7 percent increase is planned for undergraduates in the next academic year.

For universities that receive their income via public revenue and paying students, the debate still continues as to whether any business that receives governmental assistance should then be required to reveal their expenditure details.

Over the coming months, the Alaskan students plan to run a series of features in the student newspaper concerning the data they have collated and where money is spent running the university.

For more information, view the infographic below created by the Sun Star staff:

Image credit: UAF

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Topics: Legal, CXO, IT Employment

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15 comments
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  • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

    So do we get to know the names and incomes of these little charmers as well?

    And don't forget kids...some of those folks whose salaries you have just published...WILL BE GIVING YOU GRADES SOON...OR REVIEWING YOU FOR FINANCIAL AID.
    IT_Fella
    • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

      @IT_Fella

      Yeah, like how many of them are there on mommy and daddy's nickel, while believing that somehow profiting from the work you do is evil.
      bb_apptix
  • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

    We should have easy access to the salaries paid to every person and entity that receives taxpayer money. It's our money, why shouldn't we know where it goes?
    DAvenger
    • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

      @DAvenger

      When I was offered a position with a state univeristy, I went to the local library, found the state's Congressional records and the budget that had everyone at the university's salary. At the school where I currently live, there is always a report of the salary for a new coach in the local paper. It's public information. I'm more surprised it took 6000 documents to find all the data.
      silent E
  • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

    For those that are interested, some State of Virginia employee salaries can be found here: <br><br><a href="http://datacenter.timesdispatch.com/databases/salaries-virginia-state-employees-2011/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://datacenter.timesdispatch.com/databases/salaries-virginia-state-employees-2011/</a>
    david_root24
  • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

    I don't have a problem with the info being put out there since it is a public institution. There's no reason that individuals had to be named though. I think titles and departments would have been good enough.
    kevintblack
    • Should have already been available

      @kevintblack

      Unless a particular state's disclosure laws aren't up to par, the pay for university staff & faculty is [b]already[/b] available online... usually through the state government's website, for the very reason already cited (i.e. the college receives all or a major portion of its funding from the state budget, so they're considered pseudo-state employees).

      Remember, though, that most colleges anymore require full-time faculty members to have a master's degree, if not a Ph.D -- even for someone starting out in their first year as a college professor. So before you start looking at the salaries, remember that you're not comparing them to the average white-collar worker, let alone the average worker (i.e. including all the fast-food workers out there); you're comparing them to the salaries of upper-level managers (i.e. those with MBA degrees), lawyers, doctors, & other professionals that require post-graduate degrees for [b]entry-level[/b] positions in their fields.
      spdragoo
      • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

        @spdragoo@... This is so true. John and Jane Q. Public are either too lazy or ill-informed to make adequate and appropriate comparisons. I worked in state government for over 25 years and constantly heard complaints about how "overpaid" gov't employees are. Yet after 27 years, my salary and benefits, for a job which required a minimum of a bachelor's degree in addition to multiple hours per year in continuing education of a technical/legal nature, were less than a school teacher coming straight out of college.
        12stringer1975
  • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

    Thanks to you, Charlie, we all know how much money Laurel Anderson makes as an Admin Generalist. Maybe you'll get a thank-you note from her, but I doubt it.
    bb_apptix
  • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

    If we are talking about govt employees of a public university, there should be no problem in publishing salaries. If you don't like it, go get a real job in the real world. Oh, right - those who can do, those who can't, TEACH.
    HackerJ
    • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

      @HackerJ: nice string of cliches. Do you have any original thoughts? State gov't employees, when compared to private sector employees in positions requiring comparable education, skills, and experience, are paid 25-35% LESS for the same work than their private sector counterparts.
      12stringer1975
      • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

        @12stringer1975 You just made that up right? And you're including considerations like health benefits, retire plans, etc.? Of course you are...

        How about this proposal? Every single financial transaction of any government entity or government subsidized entity or any "Non-Profit" organization not paying taxes MUST be published within 30 days of the transaction and include a breakdown of the transaction (ala your pay stub)?
        -bob-
  • Massachusetts has been doing this for years...

    Every year the Boston Herald publishes a listing of all state employees and their salaries and yes, that does include faculty, administration, etc. at all state colleges. The listing is sortable, searchable and often reviewed by people who feel that state employees are vastly overpaid - particularly those who put in many years beyond undergraduate education to obtain advanced degrees and bring in large grants to fund research at the various state colleges and universities.

    The Boston Herald always feels comfortable publishing this information about others, but never about themselves. It makes me wonder if these students would feel so comfortable if it was their parents whose salaries were being put on display for public scrutiny.
    jill_hagen
  • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

    the link "have doubled since 2011" should read "have doubled since 2001"
    bump911
  • RE: Students launch university employee salary database

    I don't have a problem with this, except for the tying of salary information to specific individuals. I don't see any public value providing names that out weighs the employees' right to some privacy.

    For all the bashing that goes on about public employees, don't ever forget that these are the same people who are supposed to pull you out of your burning house and educate your children. Do you really want these things done by the lowest bidder?
    Lazarus439Z