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Feature

Terri Wallace.

CAPA chair Teri Wallace addressed members at the annual celebration, April 28. Wallace is a research associate at the Institute on Community Integration, Twin Cities campus.

Getting the numbers

Academic professionals at peer universities seek benchmarking data

By Randy Croce

From Brief, May 26, 2004

The number of employees known as "academic staff" at all the Big Ten universities has increased dramatically in the past 20 years. Yet a lack of data about academic staff members' comparative salaries, benefits, and policies has plagued the group.

It's the employee group called "P&A" at the University of Minnesota--or academic professional and administrative staff. They number three to four thousand and they're represented by the Council of Academic Professionals and Administrators (CAPA).

Four years ago, leaders of the University of Indiana's professional council initiated the first gathering of academic staff from peer institutions in conjunction with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC). CIC also coordinates intercollegiate meetings of presidents, coaches, and other groups across its member institutions.

The group that formed is called the CIC Academic Professional Staff Councils, or CIC APSC.

This will mark the fourth annual conference in which CIC academic staff representatives will meet. Planning for the event, probably to be held in the fall, will begin with a telephone conference call June 7.

On the agenda The group is making plans to address the lack of employment data about staff in the category it represents.

By comparison, it's commonly understood what faculty members do at different institutions, and easy to find out how much they earn. That makes it a relatively straightforward task to compare their compensation and make the case for raises or benefit adjustments.

Professional and academic staff, however, are engaged in a wide variety of jobs identified by different titles with wildly divergent responsibilities. This diversity has made benchmarking difficult and expensive. The class is also relatively new, so employment policies have often developed separately and norms have not been agreed upon.

Delegates to the CIC APSC are sharing information to make meaningful comparisons about work and compensation.

Other tasks of the CIC APSC include identifying employment policies and governance models to promote best practices among universities. This has already yielded results for P&A staff at the University of Minnesota: inspired by the model of University of Wisconsin professional representation, CAPA successfully sought greater involvement in U governance, including P&A representation on senate and most university-wide committees and in regular meetings with the president and provost.

Ideas and input welcome Two or three representatives from the CAPA executive committee are expected to attend the next CIC APSC meeting. To give your input, contact Randy Croce at rcroce@csom.umn.edu or 612-625-5546. See also the list of representatives on the CAPA Web site at http://www.umn.edu/ohr/capa/representatives.

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