April 7, 2014
For more information, please contact: Samuel Dunietz.
Washington, DC—Developments in recent decades—diversion of resources to administration, ballooning of contingent positions, and runaway spending on athletics—signal that our colleges and universities are losing focus on their academic missions. Losing Focus: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2013–14, released today by the AAUP. The AAUP’s annual report has been an authoritative source of data on faculty salaries and compensation for decades.
The report begins with results from this year’s AAUP survey of full-time faculty compensation. The data indicate that the post-recession stagnation in full-time faculty salaries is not yet over. On average, salaries for full-time faculty positions are 2.2 percent higher this year, edging above the rate of inflation for the first time in five years. Faculty members continuing at the same institution earned average salary increases of 3.4 percent, but that is still well below pre-recessionary levels. Again this year, full-time faculty salaries rose more rapidly at private-independent than public institutions, especially at doctorate-granting universities.
The explosive growth in administrative positions is the second major topic in this year’s report. The number of full-time nonfaculty professional employees more than quadrupled between 1976 and 2011, and employment in non-tenure-track faculty positions more than tripled. The number of full-time senior administrators also more than doubled during this period, while tenured and tenure-track faculty employment grew only 23 percent. Both in the longer term and in the immediate post-recessionary period, salaries for the most senior administrators have risen much faster than those of full-time faculty members. While faculty and staff members were told there was no money for raises or continued benefits, presidents were scooping up double-digit percentage increases in salary. Suffering from a decades-old case of “administrative bloat,” higher education is losing its focus.
More evidence that our institutions are losing focus on the academic mission comes from a review of spending on athletics. Between 2003–04 and 2010–11, inflation-adjusted per-student spending on instruction declined at community colleges, and it increased only 1 percent at public four-year institutions and 5 percent at private four-year institutions—but spending per athlete jumped 35, 25, and 29 percent, respectively. Even as institutions purportedly struggle to pay for academic programs, funds seem to be available for athletics. Data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) indicate that the most rapid increase in spending during the last decade was in Division III, where there are no athletic scholarships or big-time television contracts. US Department of Education athletics data show that the number of athletes rose more rapidly at private four-year institutions than in other sectors. Part of the reason is the increased emphasis on athletics in Division III institutions as a means to boost enrollments—and tuition revenues.
Between 2005–06 and 2011–12 median salaries and benefits for head coaches in NCAA Division I-A men’s football and basketball doubled after inflation. Even coaches in “minor sports” racked up increases in compensation far above those earned by faculty members. The evidence is strong: current institutional decision making emphasizes athletics to the detriment of academics and student success.
The report is available on the AAUP’s website.. AAUP members receive a copy of the complete print edition as a benefit of membership., Non-members may purchase the print version for $95 by visiting the AAUP's online store. Custom peer comparison reports are also available, which we provide free of charge to active AAUP chapters. These reports are also available to non-members at additional charge.
The authors of this year’s report are John Curtis, AAUP director of research and public policy, and Saranna Thornton, professor of business and economics at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and chair of the AAUP’s Committee on the Economic Status of the Profession. Professor Thornton is available by e-mail. General media inquiries about tables, data, or survey methodology should go to Samuel Dunietz .
The mission of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is to advance academic freedom and shared governance, to define fundamental professional values and standards for higher education, promote the economic security of those who teach and research in higher education, and to ensure higher education’s contribution to the common good. Founded in 1915, the AAUP has helped to shape American higher education by developing the standards and procedures that maintain quality in education and academic freedom in this country’s colleges and universities. The AAUP is a nonprofit professional association headquartered in Washington, DC.