Editorial: Why we are publishing an ASU salary database

From a binder in the Hayden Library to searchable information at your fingertips: The State Press' new salary database gives ASU students transparency

The salaries of all ASU employees are a matter of public record, and a binder containing those records currently resides under the Hayden Library front desk. Until now, checking out this binder was the only way for students to access these public records.

In publishing a searchable salary database of all ASU employees, The State Press is striving to make public records more accessible for students. University employees are public employees, and we believe that public salary information should be readily available so that students may discern how tuition dollars, state funding and private grants are distributed across the University.

As a news organization, The State Press devotes itself to keeping its audience well-informed in every way it can. This database is an extension of our mission.

Read more: Database: ASU employee salaries

The salary database is presented uncurated and unanalyzed, and we have chosen to leave it up to our readers to decide how they would like to use this information. In publishing this database, we are not passing judgement on particular salaries, drawing conclusions about disparities or targeting specific individuals.

We ask that our readers assess these salaries in context, acknowledging that the database includes both part-time and full-time employees, as well as employees whose salaries are funded through diverse revenue streams independent from tuition dollars.

The State Press believes that online access to public records is crucial for transparency and accountability, and we hope that access to public information expands in many areas. The salary database is a vessel for public information, and it invites readers to come to their own conclusions.

Perhaps this data will reveal disparities in pay by wage, department or specialty. Perhaps it will not. We leave that to our readers to discern and hope that this database will be a useful tool for future projects and analysis.

In the digital age, we believe it is no longer enough to have physical copies of public records – true accessibility requires that these records also be available online. Further, as ASU increases its online degree programs, we believe that all ASU students should be able to access this information, not just those who can physically make it to Hayden Library.

Compared to other universities, this database is nothing out-of-the-ordinary. In contrast to ASU’s decision to keep salary information in a little-known-about binder, Northern Arizona University has chosen to make the salaries of all employees available through budget documents on its website.

The State Press believes that ASU should follow NAU’s example, which is why we pushed the University to release electronic copies of its salary information and why we have transformed that information into a searchable database.

Similarly, The Daily Wildcat published UA employee salaries from fiscal year 2014-15.

This salary database is not the first time ASU salaries have been published: In 2010, The Arizona Republic published its own online database of state university employees.

It is vital that this information stays up-to-date so that students, employees, voters, government officials and the general public can stay informed.

As James Madison once wrote, "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."


If you are have additional questions about the process leading up to the publishing of the editorial or the database itself, please contact:

Executive Editor Sydney Maki - execed.statepress@gmail.com

Editor-in-Chief Allie Bice - editor.statepress@gmail.com

Multimedia Director Courtney Beesch - multimedia.statepress@gmail.com

Magazine Editor Savanah Yaghsezian - statepressmag@gmail.com


Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com.

Keep letters under 500 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter. 


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.