University Faculty Struggle for Higher Pay

As freezes and budgets continue to haunt higher education institutions across the country, veteran professors are struggling with minimal and shrinking raises. With finances being tight on many campuses across the country, newly hired peers are being payed competitive market rates while veteran professors are getting little no gains, according to an article posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education. With veteran professors earning only slightly higher salaries than those that are newly hired, many professors are now struggling for higher pay.

In fields such as economics and philosophy, newly hired assistant professors earned more than the average assistant professor in the 2009-2010 school year, according to data collected from the American Association of University Professors. In other areas, such as business administration and management, the pay ranks of new assistant professors salaries have increased so much that the average professor earned more than the higher-ranked associate professor last year, the article states. In addition, with shrinking budgets all over the board, raises for longtime employees are minimal and moving to another institution won’t necessarily bring an increase in pay. In fact, the latest annual report on professor salaries shows that the average salary of full-time faculty increased just 1.4% over the previous year with a 1.2% increase over last year, which was the lowest increase change in the survey’s 50 year history.

The report also noted that since the increase in faculty salaries didn’t outpace the inflation rate of 1.5%, the buying power of the professors fell. Longtime employees aren’t likely going to see a difference in the small gap in pay with their newly hired peers anytime soon and the ability to maintain positive morale amongst faculty is at stake. As veteran professors expect to be paid more, not only due to seniority but also due to experience, it may be difficult to keep them positive and upbeat about teaching when their inexperienced or newly hired peers earn almost as much as they do. The small gaps and compressions occur in multiple disciplines, with some affecting more than others. In fields such as library science, philosophy, and economics, new assistant professors earned slightly more than experienced assistant professors.

As most school officials believe it is in school’s best interest to keep professors from moving, especially those that are senior faculty, many deans may look to identify which professors are crucial to keep and find additional jobs and duties for them to take on in order to justify pay increases for them. As deans and other officials examine budgets to decipher whether pay increases are an option, some are also faced with the need to pay those that go the extra mile for teaching and for their students, regardless of how long they have been at the university. Sometimes, those who are subject to salary raises are those who are incredibly valuable to the university, regardless of how long they have been working there.

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