For Release: April 12, 2010
For more information, contact Robin Burns
Washington, D.C. — Despite the continuing importance of quality higher education as a means of advancement for many Americans, colleges and universities continue to undervalue their most important resource: faculty members. Data from this year’s national survey of faculty compensation indicate that the overall average salary for a full-time faculty member increased only 1.2 percent over last year, the lowest year-to-year change recorded in the fifty-year history of this survey. Moreover, when adjusted for inflation, salaries for continuing faculty members showed the first actual decrease since the hyperinflation years of the late 1970s. These are two of the central findings of No Refuge: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2009–10, released today by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
The AAUP’s annual report has been an authoritative source of data on faculty salaries and compensation for decades. This year’s report discusses faculty salaries in the context of turbulent financial times and suggests that faculty salaries are concrete indicators of institutional priorities. Mandatory furloughs, hiring and salary freezes, and reductions in retirement-fund contributions are all symptoms of a continuing disinvestment in the faculty.
In addition to listing average salary by faculty rank and gender at more than 1,200 colleges and universities, the report provides an important perspective on the economic challenges facing higher education. Here are some highlights:
About one third of responding institutions reported that overall average salary levels decreased this year.
Two-thirds of continuing faculty members are employed at institutions where the average change in salary was below the rate of inflation, meaning that the earning power of most full-time faculty members is less than it was one year ago.
About fourteen percent of reporting institutions have reduced contributions to faculty retirement programs, and a few eliminated retirement contributions entirely. These changes provide limited savings for the institutions, but can create long-term problems for affected faculty members.
Although many colleges and universities are facing reduced revenues, circumstances vary widely. Decisions on how to deal with financial difficulties require examination of the details of state appropriations; the interplay of tuition prices, enrollment, and financial aid; donations to the institution; and returns on endowment fund investments. Faculty members are uniquely positioned to devise solutions that will limit the damage to higher education’s core mission: educating students and advancing knowledge for the benefit of all.
The report is available on the AAUP’s website. Print copies are available for purchase through the AAUP’s online store and cost $89.00. AAUP members receive a complimentary copy.
General media inquiries should go to Robin Burns.
The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has about 45,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.