U faculty salaries ranked 28th of 30 research institutions

Molly Moker

Compared to its peer institutions, the salaries of University faculty are ranked near the bottom once again, officials said.

Faculty salaries on the University’s Twin Cities campus ranked 28th out of the top 30 public and private research institutions, down from last year’s ranking of 27th.

The American Association of University Professors conducts the study each year.

The University’s average faculty salary is $83,600. When compensations such as social security and health care are added, the institution’s ranking improves to 22nd out of 30.

Peter Zetterberg, University senior analyst for institutional research and reporting, presented the information to Board of Regents on May 13.

He said he did not think the drop was “major,” but said last year’s salary freeze – a consequence of cuts in state funding, – was one of the main reasons for the lower ranking.

Next year’s salary increase will not boost the University’s ranking, Zetterberg said.

“A 2.5 percent salary increase will not change our ranking at all,” he said. “Everyone else will increase their salaries by at least that much.”

The five highest-ranked schools this year are Harvard University, Princeton University, Stanford University, California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

At Harvard University, the average faculty salary is $131,000.

The University of Minnesota’s ranking improves when compared only to other top public institutions.

University salaries and compensation are 15 percent less than the top 30 private and public research institutions, but 2 percent less than the top 14 public institutions. The University is ranked 12th out of 14 when ongly compared to public institutions.

University President Bob Bruininks said although the 2.5 percent salary increase – set to begin in July – is not large, it will help steer the University in the right direction.

“An average of 2.5 percent is not a big increase, and it’s not as big as I would like it to be, but it’s the best we can do,” Bruininks said.

The salary increase will contribute to the University’s 2004-05 operating budget deficit, he said.

Despite the financial burden, Bruininks said the salary increase is necessary. After last year’s wage freeze, Bruininks said some good faculty members left the University. In order to stay competitive, wages need to improve, he said.

“It is very important to supply a salary increase in year two,” he said. “I just regret it’s not larger.”

Christine Maziar, University provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said she was not surprised by the University’s low ranking.

“I think we knew we weren’t going to improve,” she said. “But we were hopeful (our ranking) didn’t deteriorate as much as it did.”

Maziar said next year’s salary increase will help keep the University from sliding further but will not increase the institution’s ranking because other universities will also have salary increases.

National rankings such as these can be skewed, Maziar said.

Because each institution is different, salaries can vary, Maziar said.

“Different disciplines demand different salaries,” Maziar said. “Business law and engineering specialists are paid a lot more, which is often the case why private schools have higher rankings.”

Maziar said the salaries of University engineering professors ranked last in the Big Ten.

“That’s very troubling,” she said. “It really speaks about our compensation.”

Regent Frank Berman called the University’s low ranking “dismal” and said a complete review of the institution’s expenses is in order.

Next year’s salary increase is a good start, but won’t help much, Berman said.

Berman said it is up to administrators to come up with new financing options that the regents can approve.

“Some might be painful alternatives,” Berman said. “But we need to shift where the financing of the University is going.”