Living Wage at UVA

Related Date: 
March 07, 2019

"As a university, we should live our values..." President Jim Ryan stated in a university-wide email he sent today announcing that beginning January 1, 2020, "UVA will begin paying all full-time employees a living wage of at least $15 an hour."  Read more.


To the University community,

From the day I started as president, I’ve been interested in what it would take to pay UVA employees a living wage.  As a university, we should live our values—and part of that means making sure that no one who works at UVA should live in poverty.

This issue has been front and center at UVA for more than two decades, in part because it’s difficult to solve completely.  But I don’t believe the perfect should be the enemy of the good, and the fact that we can’t do everything all at once shouldn’t keep us from doing what we can, for the employees we can, as soon as we can.

That’s why, starting January 1, 2020, UVA will begin paying all full-time employees a living wage of at least $15 an hour.

In making this decision, we are following the inspiring example set by the City of Charlottesville, as well as other cities, states, companies, academic institutions, and health systems across the country that have raised their base wages to $15 an hour.  This also follows a report by the UVA-Community Working Group identifying jobs and wages as the most important issue for the community.

This decision will cover roughly 60% of full-time employees who currently earn under $15 an hour.  The remaining 40% are employed by contractors.  Over the next few months, my team will be working on a plan to extend the same $15 commitment to contract employees.   This is legally and logistically more complicated, but our goal is to make it happen.  In the meantime, we’ll keep working on ways to make a difference on our own, including on the equally pressing topic of affordable housing.

This plan was heartily endorsed by the Board of Visitors at our meeting last week.  They believe, like I do, that we should strive not simply to be a great university, but also to be a good university.  While we have plenty of work ahead, and will be considering in more detail the full recommendations from the community working group, I am optimistic that this represents a new day for the University and the community that we love.

For more information, please see

James E. Ryan
University of Virginia