University Will Advance Two Salary Initiatives to Help Staff, GAs

Gearhart Hall, home to the Graduate School and International Education.
Chieko Hara, University Relations

Gearhart Hall, home to the Graduate School and International Education.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University is working to implement two plans it had previously put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic dealing with wages for employees and graduate assistants.

First, all full-time staff who earn less than $30,000 will receive some increase this fall, pending state approval. The goal is to propose a plan for all full-time staff to attain a living wage this fiscal year.  

"We've been working on a comprehensive analysis to find a fair and equitable approach to solving a longstanding issue with employee compensation for staff who earn less than $30,000 at the U of A," said Joe Steinmetz, chancellor. "Our plan was made possible when we received approval to increase certain labor market rates to bring those positions to more regionally competitive levels and give us more flexiblity."  

"We had a plan in place and then COVID hit, so we had to put things on hold," he said.

The chancellor previously published a white paper about his intention to raise staff salaries in action item No. 10, part of his Focus 2020 series of action items for the future.

The second initiative is designed to help graduate assistants.

"Although graduate assistant stipends have been steadily increasing, we recognize that our stipends are below that of our peers in select areas," Steinmetz said. 

This situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To address this, over the next few months, the campus will be undertaking a study to determine where to make strategic investments both in the short-term and in the long-term to raise graduate assistant stipends to a more competitive level.

The long-term goal is to move to a minimum graduate assistant stipend of $1,250 per month, which annualizes to $15,000 for a 12-month position.

"We are pleased to thoroughly examine the compensation packages of our graduate assistants and get to a base monthly stipend of $1,250," said Kim Needy, dean of the graduate school and international education. "We want to grow our graduate student body and continue to recruit outstanding graduate students to the University of Arkansas."

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3 percent of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

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