Labor & Work-Life Issues

One-Third of Faculty Members See Dip in Their Salaries

March 08, 2010

Nearly a third of all college faculty members, on average, took a pay cut during 2009-10, and overall faculty pay showed no salary increase, according to a report released this week. The results are in contrast to those in the recent past, when professors' pay increased nearly 4 percent per year.

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, which conducts the annual survey, says only faculty members at private doctoral institutions saw a salary increase of any significance, and it was about 1.7 percent, on average.

The association collected data for more than 200,000 faculty members and 4,000 researchers for the period September 2009 to January 2010. Overall faculty pay showed no growth since last year, compared with average growth of 3.7 percent in 2008-9 and 4 percent in 2007-8.

For faculty members who took pay cuts, the average decline was 3 percent, the report says. For those who did receive raises, the average increase was 3 percent.

Andy Brantley, chief executive of CUPA-HR, said that because of the recession, the flatness in overall salaries was to be expected. He was surprised, however, by the high percentage of faculty members who saw their pay reduced.

"We know all these factors are happening in higher education, and we did know some faculty would have been included," Mr. Brantley said. "What makes this troubling for us is that the faculty are obviously the key component to our continued success in preparing students not only in lives of leading and serving, but also ensuring the long-term economic stability of the U.S. economy."

Recent data gathered by the American Association of University Professors match the slump in faculty salaries in the new report, said John W. Curtis, the AAUP's director of research and public policy. Higher education tends to feel the effects of a sluggish economy after other industries do, and recovery takes longer, he said, meaning that faculty members will feel a continued strain in the next few years.

University officials should seek faculty input on pay cuts, and state officials must chose priorities correctly, Mr. Curtis said. "I do think we're at a pretty critical juncture at looking at higher education as a public good and as a resource that contributes something to society. Unfortunately, a lot of governors and legislators are looking at higher education as only an expense."

For the CUPA-HR study, the highest-paid disciplines at all professorial ranks were law, at $102,101; business, at $91,886; and engineering, at $90,208. Those are the same three top-ranked disciplines as last year.

Also similar to last year were the disciplines with the lowest average salaries: English, at $60,850; parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies, at $61,709; and visual and performing arts, at $61,898.

The report can be ordered online (