Professors’salaries stagnant nationwide

The reported increase marks a change but has done little more than buffer inflation's effects.

Karlee Weinmann

The American Association of University Professors released its annual report last week, which detailed trends in faculty compensation.

This year’s report showed the termination of a two-year trend in faculty salaries; before, faculty salaries had been lower than the previous year, when adjusted for inflation.

Instead, the report detailed overall faculty salaries increasing by 3.8 percent since the 2005-06 report.

The University’s average professor salary according to the report is $116,600. By comparison, the University of Michigan averages $130,400 per professor. University-specific averages from previous years were not available.

AAUP’s Director of Research and Public Policy John Curtis said the salary increase might be misleading.

“Although the salaries are up a little bit this year, in the long-term trends, they’ve been just barely keeping up with inflation,” he said.

Faculty salaries fell sharply in the ’70s and have been slowly climbing to levels equivalent to before that drop.

Each year, the AAUP evaluates higher education institutions across the nation to track compensation trends in hopes of providing faculty with benchmark numbers.

Then, faculty members have a foundation on which to evaluate their school’s competitiveness in terms of pay.

The nonprofit coalition of professors has a committee that works to produce the comprehensive report, which has been published since the late ’50s.

Additionally, the report offers secondary focuses that change from year to year, such as this year’s consideration of the disparity between salaries of Division I football coaches and faculty.

This year’s committee was headed by Saranna Thornton, professor of economics at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, who said the average professor salary could not be fairly related to those of coaches, but the average salary of full professors can be weighed against them.

“Full professors, it seemed to me, are in a position more comparable to a football coach in that they are at the peak of their careers, too,” she said.

After hearing reports of the University of Alabama hiring a coach with a price tag of $32 million over four years, Thornton said she wanted to explore whether an increase in coaches’ salaries was a growing trend.

“What I found that really surprised me was that this phenomena of very large coaches pay was very widespread,” she said. “If the priority really is on higher education and the students, then we should be paying the people who manage the university more than the football coaches.”

Gopher head football coach Tim Brewster agreed to a five-year deal this year, which stipulates a base salary of $400,000 with annual reviews by Athletics Director Joel Maturi.

Contingent upon Maturi’s evaluation, Brewster will be eligible for increases yearly.

Kathryn Hanna, director of the biology colloquium program and internship instructor in the College of Biological Sciences, is a faculty representative to the University Senate’s faculty affairs committee.

She said faculty compensation has been discussed by the committee.

“As a faculty member, I think coaches’ salaries are getting way out of line with the rest of us. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me if we’re an academic institution,” she said.

The University’s average is a figure Hanna said could result in the loss of professors to other, higher-paying institutions, or jobs in the nonacademic world.

“In the last couple years, we’ve lost some good people – that’s a disappointment,” she said. “We’re disappointed in governors’ and legislatures’ (budgetary) recommendations Ö We’re disappointed in where we’re headed this year.”

Lawmakers have not voted on final funding for the University, but are expected to do so in the coming weeks.