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.
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.