Questioning Faculty Salary
I love college sports! I believe academic athletic departments bring huge benefits (and funds) to the universities and to the communities they serve. However, when I read a recent editorial in USA Today
about the rise of the salaries of the athletic directors
on campuses nationwide, I must admit, I was upset. When I read that the average salary is $450,000 I became angrier. And when I learned that a good number of schools gave their athletic directors raises of about $75,000 just last year, I was furious!
Please do not misunderstand me. I am a logical person and I understand we do not have to be at the same pay scale, or do we?
First, let us define the word “salary.” A salary reflects the type of employment obtained and success in meeting the goals associated with the position held. As such, a salary is a form of recognition for professional contributions and a measure of worth in the scientific or professional community.
We all agree that academic faculty salaries are not competitive. Actually, in a recent survey, teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education.
Adjusting faculty salaries is a priority to most, if not all, colleges and universities. Administrators at academic institutions agree that the legislative and governing bodies must be made aware that addressing the issue of competitive faculty salaries is of the utmost importance to the long-term economic health of our country.
The existing disparity between faculty salaries and other professionals impact the quality of teaching and research in academic world. The disparity in salaries is having a significant and negative impact on recruitment and retention of faculty. Moreover, we are unable to recruit top choices for new faculty because we simply cannot compete.
The public often talk about accountability, measurements, tenure, test scores and pay for performance. These questions are worthy of debate, but are secondary to recruiting and training teachers and treating them fairly.
In a study that compared the treatment of teachers in the United States and in the three countries that perform best on standardized tests: Finland, Singapore and South Korea, the findings (PDF link) were remarkable. These countries have an entirely different approach to the profession. First, these governments recruited top graduates to the profession. (We don’t.)
In Finland and Singapore they pay for training. (We don’t.) In terms of purchasing power, South Korea pays teachers on average 250 percent of what we do. Most importantly, they trust their teachers. They are rightly seen as the solution, not the problem, and when improvement is needed, the school receives support and development, not punishment.
Don’t you think we would attract and retain the best of the best if salaries started at $65,000 and rose to a minimum of $150,000? If we’re committed to “winning the future,” we should.
Colleges and universities must make a firm commitment to invest in intellectual capital as represented in its faculty with the same vigor that they are investing in physical capital and other resources.