Response to ‘Matching the market’

Last week’s Minnesota Daily article titled “Matching the market,” which focused on administrators’ pay, may pique readers’ interest in what the University of Minnesota spends on instruction. It should also prompt questions about the relation between pay, as determined by the market, and value.

First, most people teaching at the University earn far less than the six-figure average salary for full professors cited in the article. Full professors are a minority of the regular faculty, most of whom are either assistant or associate professors and earn lower salaries, commensurate with their lower rank.

But that’s just the tenure-stream faculty (those who hold tenured or tenurable positions). Many instructors are hired on
different terms altogether, often on contingent appointments —without the possibility of tenure — and often course by course, for but a fraction of a regular faculty salary.

Second, according to an analysis done three years ago by Howard Bunsis — then secretary-treasurer of the American Association of University Professors — the proportion of the University’s expenditures that goes to paying instructors of all categories is about 20 percent. Evidently we the teachers don’t consume an outsize share of the budget, and our pay is not a significant factor in its increase.

Third, the salaries of full-time University employees are public information because this is a public institution. The information is available online at the Minnesota Public Employee Salaries database hosted by the Pioneer Press at

Want to compare your professors’ pay by subject or by any other criterion? You can find out right there.

Bear in mind that faculty jobs encompass much more than teaching: Research, governance and service to our disciplines and our communities, as well as our institution, are some of the major categories of faculty work beyond the classroom. Nevertheless, lining up what instructors earn with what you learn from them should suffice to disabuse readers of any notion that people’s worth is properly measured by what they’re paid.