Faculty See Smallest Salary Increase In 50 Years

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on April 12, 2010

To b-school students it may sometimes seem as if nobody has it quite as bad as they do: jobs are scarce, salaries are flat, and to critics at least the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression is all their fault. But if it’s any consolation, they’re not alone. Their teachers are having a pretty tough year, too.

The American Association of University Professors reports that faculty salaries across the board increased just 1.2% for the 2009-10 academic year, the smallest increase in 50 years. With inflation for that year at 2.7%, that means faculty are actually worse off than they were in 2008-09.

Of course, that probably overstates how tough they have it. Many faculty (particularly b-school faculty) have consulting businesses on the side, write books, and have other sources of income. Even so, I imagine it’s times like this that make a great many of them question their decision to enter academia in the first place when they could probably be making a lot more money in the private sector.

I was struck by how frequently the average faculty salary increase did little more than keep pace with inflation over the years. (In many years it didn’t even do that.) There may be some faculty who are wildly overpaid, but it’s hard to argue that on average teachers made out like bandits—they clearly didn’t. The average salary for all faculty in 2009-10 was just $80,368, with instructors earning $47,592 and full professors taking home $109,843. That’s less than many MBAs from top schools will earn this year.

If the nation’s universities are squandering a lot of money on something—as the ever-rising tuition would suggest—it’s not the people doing the actual teaching.

Reader Comments


April 12, 2010 8:58 PM

If you are seeking sympathy for these bloody-sucking university professors, then look elsewhere. They don't do 10 hours per week toward teaching, the rest of their time goes toward their own research and other money-making interests. It's the plum job of all times!

They prey upon the poorest member of society ... the young ... charging confiscatory rates of tuition that leave these kids $50,000-$100,000 in debt even before they even start work. And how much is a college degree worth these days? Apparently less and less.

At a time when people are losing their jobs left and right, states are going bankrupt, and Obama is trying to bankrupt the nation ... these people had better not whine about getting a pay raise. In fact, it irks me that they are not taking a pay cut like the rest of us.

University Tuition - where does the money go ?

April 15, 2010 3:25 PM

University tuition - where does the money go ? It doesn't go to most
of the faculty. If a student pays
$20,000 per year, that's $2000 per
course. At 100 students per lecture
that is $200,000 per course.

It doesn't go to real estate - most
buildings are donated or have been
fully depreciated decades ago.

Most courses do not require laboratory
or sports facilities.

So where does the money go ?

Business Week should look at a leading
MBA and undergraduate program, and
write an article on this - complete
with a pie chart or two.

Chart 1 :
Your tuition dollar - how much goes
to paying for lecturers, the classroom,
the lights and utilities, janitorial services, administration salaries, etc.

Chart 2 :
Total tuition revenue for a lecture course - how much goes to paying the lecturers, the graders, the cost of renting/using the classroom, the lights and utilities, janitorial services, administration salaries, etc.

It'd make for a very interesting article.


April 21, 2010 4:52 AM

Louis you are right in your thinking but I am not even rejecting Gary's view too. He Found aprox right figures and his question also demanding..But See Faculty Job is alike a 2 hour/day n rest of the time they don't have class. So what they can do and what about holidays? We have to think over students valet, how much they are spending and Job is always scarce I suggest to Indian students check out the study programs and fees structure too...

Carol Gottuso

April 22, 2010 2:49 PM

Response to Gary:

Do your homework before you throw all of those ..."blood-sucking university professors..." under the bus. Not all universities, colleges or faculty are created equal. Should you visit a community college, for example, here is what you will most likely find:
--Faculty members teach full time; which translates into 4-5 classes per quarter.
--Faculty members top priority without exception is the students. Our job performance reviews are pretty simple: quality of teaching and service to the college and community that we serve.
--Faculty members will also be writing their own tests, making their own handouts and doing their own grading. There are no graduate or student assistants.
--Many faculty members have had previous lives. In other words, they have practical experience in their respective discipline prior to teaching. This translates into a practical rather than theoretical approc
--Finally, you will witness an example of a highly dedicated organization. Without a dedicated team effort faculty can't function at a high quality level.

If you don't want to take the word of a "blood-sucking university professor" talk to students who attend a community college. I suspect they will reinforce these facts. Hope that helps. Carol G.


April 27, 2010 4:20 PM

I am a b' school prof in the US, so I can provide a little perspective here.
Even though I understand Gary's frustration with US higher education, I think that he directs it at the wrong crowd. As the next commentator points out, the professor salaries are not that high. Particularly for b'school profs who could be earning twice as much in the private sector. B'school Professors typically make about the same salary as their MBA grads will make upon graduation in their first job. And while the MBA grad will see her/his salary increase by 70-100% over the course of a career, a Professor will only see annual increases that are typically below inflation (except the year of a promotion in rank, but there are only two of those in a career: Associate and Full --and the second one is far from guaranteed). This is why business is one of the few fields where there is actually a shortage of PhDs to hire from. 'Why bother put in the many extra years of gruesome training in a PhD program?' seems to be a common concern.
Now, salaries of university administrators are a whole different matter entirely... My experience at several universities is that there are a lot of clueless/inefficient administrators who are paid 50 to 100% more than professors and contribute little. Of course, there are welcome exceptions but unfortunately few and far between.
Also, universities (as opposed to Community Colleges) are not just teaching schools. It is part of their mission to conduct research. So their faculty are expected to perform well in teaching (which includes preparing lectures, grading assignments, one-on-one counseling), research and administrative service to their school. Therefore inferring from small teaching loads that university professors do nothing most of the time is a little like thinking that, say, lawyers only work when they are arguing a case in a Court of law, when most of the work is actually done behind the scene.
That being said, are there faculty members who profit from loopholes in the system? You bet. Some tenured faculty members, particularly those who have reached the Full Professor rank, check themselves out, because there is not much of an incentive left for them to perform at a very high level. But overall I think that it is no worse (nor better) than in the public or private sector. You will always find people looking to minimize their efforts and to get away with it. I do not believe in the myth of the cut-throat private sector where EVERYBODY is constantly kept on edge and performs at 110% of their capacities. Sure, some people are, but not everybody. This is as much a myth as Professors doing nothing for lavish salaries.

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