A look at faculty, presidents’ salaries

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The annual compensation survey by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) provides a glimpse at how faculty members have fared over the past year.

Overall, average full-time faculty salaries among surveyed U.S. colleges and universities increased 1% over the past year, which is the smallest increase since AAUP began tracking the measure in 1972. After adjusting for inflation, the result was a -0.4% decrease.

For associate-degree-granting institutions with faculty ranking systems, average salaries increased 1.7%, an increase of 0.3% in real terms. For the same type of institutions without standard faculty ranking systems, average salaries decreased -2.7%, a decrease of -4.1% after adjusting for inflation.

For comparison, at master’s and baccalaureate institutions, average salaries increased 0.8% and 0.1%, respectively. After adjusting for inflation, real wages decreased -0.6% and -1.3%, respectively.

Full-time professors at associate-degree colleges earned, on average, $91,196 (-0.8%), associates $75,550 (0.9%), assistants $64,823 (1.3%) and instructors $54,547 (1.2%). Lecturers earned $68,641.

Overall, the number of full-time faculty members did not change significantly from last year, but there was considerable variation among types of institutions. For example, there was a small increase in full-time faculty members at doctoral institutions and more substantial decreases at all other institution types. The number of full-time faculty members increased 0.8% at doctoral institutions, decreased -2.2% at master’s institutions, decreased -1.6% at baccalaureate institutions and decreased -3.1% at associate institutions.

The AAUP survey concluded in March, with 929 U.S. colleges and universities providing employment data for nearly 380,000 full-time faculty members as well as senior administrators at nearly 600 institutions, community colleges among them.

Other key findings

The survey also captures how participating institutions responded to Covid:

• Nearly 60% implemented salary freezes or reductions.
• About 30% eliminated or reduced some form of fringe benefits.
• Over 5% did not reappoint or terminated contracts for at least some tenure-line faculty.
• Over 20% did not renew contracts or terminated contracts for at least some non-tenure-track faculty.
• Almost 10% implemented furloughs for at least some faculty.
• Over 50% took some other action for tenure-line faculty. The most common action described was some type of early retirement program.

Nearly one-third (32%) of associate-degree faculty reported having salaries frozen or reduced over the past year as part of their colleges’ response to Covid, far less than in other sectors. About 17% of associate-college faculty said they were terminated, compared to 11% at baccalaureates. Associate-degree faculty saw a lower percentage of furloughs (4%) and fringe benefits eliminated or reduced (3%) than other types of institutions. Also, 17% of faculty in the associate-degree sector reported experiencing “other” actions, compared to 8% at baccalaureate institutions.

Part-time numbers

The survey’s findings on part-time faculty members come with a caveat: they are for the 2019-20 academic year, so they are pre-pandemic numbers. AAUP said, in general, institutions cannot provide employment data on part-time faculty until the end of the academic year.

On average, part-time faculty earned $3,019 for a standard course section at associate-degree colleges with ranks, and $2,611 at colleges without ranks. Salaries ranged from $681 to $10,325 at colleges with ranks, and $1,281 to $7,500 at colleges without ranks.

Top-level admin salaries

The AAUP data include salaries for presidents, chief academic officers and chief financial officers at associate-degree institutions, though the report does not denote increases or decreases.

At associate-degree colleges with ranks, presidents earned, on average, $273,814. The median was $241,727 (the high was $489,357, and low $124,030). For associate colleges without ranks, the average is $241,452, with a median of $224,371 (high was $437,019, and low $130,000).

For chief academic officers at associate-degree colleges, the average for colleges with ranks was $154,660 and the median was $146,436. For colleges without ranks, the average was $153,959, and the median was $142,268.

For chief financial officers at associate-degree colleges, the average for colleges with ranks was $170,509 and the median was $141,775. For colleges without ranks, the average was $145,081 and the median was $128,562.

Gender, regional breakdown

The data also sheds light on disparities between average salaries between men and women, though female faculty at associate-degree institutions earned slightly more than men in the positions of assistant and instructor. Among professors at associate colleges, who earn most among faculty, men made $92,530 on average compared to $89,989 for women — a difference of $2,541.

At associate-degree colleges, professors comprise 30.7% of full-time faculty positions, followed by associates (28.2%), assistants (25.2%) and instructors (10.9%). Women comprised the largest portion in each post. For example, 52.5% of professors and 57.2% of associates at these colleges were women.

The survey also looked at differences in salaries among regions. For associate-degree-granting colleges, the Pacific region — Alaska, California, Guam, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington — had the highest average salary for associates ($89,395), assistants ($76,247) and instructors ($65,683). The Middle Atlantic (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania) had the highest average salary for the professor position at $106,042.

More to come

Complete analyses and discussion of the impact of the pandemic on faculty members and other results from this year’s survey — which also collected information about faculty retirement, medical and dependent tuition benefits — will be presented in the upcoming Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession to be released in May.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.