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.