Market Pay Study

 A key step in the University's pay/benefits study was an objective comparison of faculty and staff pay to market rates for comparable roles. Mercer was selected as an external consultant mainly because of their demonstrated capability in conducting such independent assessments. The following describes Mercer’s process for the market study of pay conducted on behalf of Seattle University in 2010-11. 

  Step 1: Determine Benchmark Jobs. With Mercer’s input, SU selected representative benchmark jobs. The chosen jobs were from all schools, colleges, divisions and large departments. The selection also covered a range of organization levels and job categories for full-time faculty and nonunion staff. 

The objective for the faculty portion of the comparison was to analyze market rates for the ranks of professor, associate professor, assistant professor and non-tenure track instructor within all primary teaching discipline assignments. Data were gathered for 34 distinct disciplines and 133 rank/discipline combinations.

Staff jobs were selected as benchmarks with an objective of sampling a cross-section of representative and commonly understood roles. Further, staff roles were chosen based on factors such as number of people in a job and likely availability of market data. The staff portion of the Mercer study included 77 nonunion positions.

Mercer’s review represented approximately 50% of the University’s full-time workforce.

Step 2: Select Sources and Match Jobs.
Mercer secured market data from the University’s HR and Institutional Research groups as well as from colleges/schools via HR. Data supplied by the University was scrutinized by Mercer to ensure quality of methodology and adequacy of reporting. Additionally, Mercer provided market data from Mercer libraries. 

A list of sources used in the SU study is shown at: 2011 SU pay study sources. Each source satisfied Mercer’s reliability standard in gathering, analyzing and reporting of salary data.

Step 3: Choose Scope or Market Comparator Group(s). Mercer together with SU identified a protocol for use of market data that would best approximate the relevant labor markets for type of role and for each benchmark job.

For faculty, the assessment included broad sets of statistically robust national data as well as data from select, named institutions including most importantly, the same 11 peer institutions used by the University for general comparisons. 

For staff, the chosen scope was often regional higher education institutions. However, general industry comparisons were preferred for staff jobs where the relevant labor market was determined to not be limited to higher education (for example, administrative support roles). Mercer also analyzed institutions that share fundamental characteristics with the University such as being private/independent and masters-degree granting, or with similar operating budget or enrollment.


Step 4: Establish Market Target. Based on Mercer’s analysis of market competitiveness, the University established a goal for its faculty and staff pay programs where on average, our pay is at a level that is comparable to the median within the identified market comparator group.

Average salaries for the combined, full-time faculty were 96% of market median while the average salary for benchmarked staff jobs was 90% of market median. For information on how the University intends to respond to the Mercer pay study, please refer to Fr. Steve Sundborg's May 10, 2011 email to faculty and staff.


Last modified on Friday, October 25, 2013