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Author Topic: Professors Seek to Reframe Salary Debate  (Read 15554 times)
sibyl
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« on: April 09, 2012, 10:08:05 AM »

http://chronicle.com/article/faculty-salaries-barely-budge-2012/131432

The debate isn't going to be "reframed" on the basis of the quotes and profiles in this article, or even the actual report in Academe.  I can't quibble with the substance of the report, of course; it is true that the long-term drop in state and federal appropriations has caused universities to shift cost burdens toward students in the form of higher tuitions, and that individual faculty pay is growing more slowly than the economy as a whole and more slowly than sticker-price tuition.

But by complaining about presidential pay, the report plays into the larger narrative that the Chronicle says they want to change.  The AAUP is asking, Who should get the money, presidents or professors?  But the public doesn't care; they just want to spend less on their education.

The AAUP also fails to acknowledge that while individual faculty salaries are stagnating, collective faculty salaries continue to rise, which drives up costs, which will keep on pushing up tuition.  Since there are some first-rate economists on the Committee on Economic Status, I am surprised that they do not want to acknowledge the role that Baumol's cost disease plays in the economics of higher education.

The Chronicle article also gives undeserved extra life to the execrable David Levy essay.  Moving away from the how-hard-do-we-work trope would also help the debate.  The best analogy I heard during that dustup was this:  No one claims that the workweek of the professional athlete includes only actual game time, or that the workweek of clergy includes only the hours of worship services, or that lthe workweek of lawyers includes only the hours spent in court.  These professionals need time to practice and prepare, and so do professors.  If we could make this point clearer, we could avoid the distraction of who suffers the most.
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proftowanda
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 12:07:59 PM »

Nicely framed argument at the end, sibyl.  I've fought this fight in my state for a long time against the legislature and media, as they are the ones who mount these attacks.  So I extend it to frames they may understand: 

No legislator claims that their workweek includes only time on the floor of the legislature -- and not time spent writing bills, reading bills, meeting with each other, meeting with staff, contact with constituents (and donors), etc.  No reporter claims that their workweek includes only time spent typing or on the air -- and not time spent researching stories, meeting with each other, meeting with staff, contacting sources for interviews, etc.

To paraphrase you, we need to make this point to those who inflict the most suffering upon us, at least in the public sector.  (But our colleagues at private campuses ought to care, as they also suffer indirectly from this.)
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larryc
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 2:48:49 PM »

What the article is missing is data on what percentage of university expenses are faculty salaries? I am willing to bet that number has fallen in recent years. Then we can figure administrative salaries--not just what presidents make, but what percentage of the total budget goes towards administration? I am willing to bet we will find sharp increases.

Is anyone running this sort of data?
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much_metta
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 3:27:06 PM »

What the article is missing is data on what percentage of university expenses are faculty salaries? I am willing to bet that number has fallen in recent years. Then we can figure administrative salaries--not just what presidents make, but what percentage of the total budget goes towards administration? I am willing to bet we will find sharp increases.

Is anyone running this sort of data?

Yes, the Goldwater Institute (not exactly a bastion of liberal thought):

http://goldwaterinstitute.org/article/administrative-bloat-american-universities-real-reason-high-costs-higher-education

“Administrative bloat” as they put it is what is driving costs up.  That is, as administrators hire more and more temps and adjuncts instead of TT positions, making their teaching missions “cheaper,” they rapidly expand their own ranks of deanlets and associate administrators and VPs in charge of whatever.  The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.  I know of one university where the ratio of faculty to admin hires over the past few years has been just 2:1 at a time when classrooms are bursting at the seams!
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lotsoquestions
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 4:10:37 PM »

Holy cow, Much metta, but that's fascinating.  How do you explain the ones on there (like Yeshiva) where the administrators actually appear to OUTNUMBER the students?  I'm trying to picture what a campus like that would look like.
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daniel_von_flanagan
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 5:35:27 PM »

Some of this is an artifact of the growing "professionalism" of the academy (where I use the term technically, and not as a positive attribute).  There are many policy jobs on campus that faculty used to do as part of their university service.  (For example, admissions oversight.)  As shared governance has become weaker, responsibility for such jobs has been moved to administration.  While it is not impossible that someone with graduate training in educational administration is better equipped to do these jobs than a faculty member, it does mean that new administrative staff are needed which were previously unnecessary.  Moreover, as faculty still see many of the policy decisions that accompany these jobs as at least partly their province, this sets up conflicts that can lead to inefficiencies.

Any campus that is serious about reining in administrative costs will start by bolstering meaningful shared governance and reinforcing lines of communication from the Board or President on down. - DvF
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sibyl
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2012, 9:27:28 AM »

What the article is missing is data on what percentage of university expenses are faculty salaries? I am willing to bet that number has fallen in recent years. Then we can figure administrative salaries--not just what presidents make, but what percentage of the total budget goes towards administration? I am willing to bet we will find sharp increases.

Is anyone running this sort of data?

We don't have good detailed data on this.  The best standardized source is IPEDS, but because IPEDS breaks expenditures only into broad categories like "instruction" and "academic support," it doesn't provide detailed data on how much of those expenditures comprise faculty salary as opposed to departmental operating expenses, library materials, or computer labs and support.  For that matter, it doesn't even separate salary from non-salary compensation; the cost to colleges of health insurance is growing by leaps and bounds, and while it's harder to see that in our paychecks, it's a real cost driver for the institution.

For the same reason, it's hard to get at the real root of administrative increases.  Because the term "administration" is applied to so many people, it's difficult to know where the problem is.  Is the problem extra VPs, extra assistant deans, extra mid-level academic support types like instructional technologists and advisors and skills instructors, extra development officers, etc.?  Until we can locate the growth, we can’t tell how bad it is.  Some of those administrators are there to respond to increased regulatory requirements (like oversight on federal grant spending, safety regulations, expanded IPEDS collections, etc.).  Some of them are there to deal with increased expectations of doing business (for example, the people in the registrar’s office who manage online registration, especially during off hours when students tend to register).  Some of them are there because institutions decide that they need to provide academic and non-academic support services like tutoring, counseling, and wellness.  Some of them are there because the fundraising imperative causes institutions to add more development staff.  And, of course, while featherbedding and waste and empire-building are much less prevalent than critics would believe, they are capable of happening anywhere. 

SHEEO did a report last year that focused on staffing headcounts, not on salary.  The report noted that on a per-student basis, over the last decade, the number of employees in three areas – clerical, maintenance/skilled, and executive/managerial – declined by over 20%.  The number of faculty declined by 4% (full-timers down 9%, part-timers up 2%).  The only groups to see an increase were “other professionals,” which rose by 6%, and “graduate assistants,” which rose by 1%. 

To me that suggests that the source of growth is those folks in the middle who staff operations like the counseling center and financial aid.  But who wants to tell a prospective student, “Our school doesn’t waste your money on bells and whistles like a tutoring operation or IT support?”
 
It’s a huge and complex question that really can’t be solved by “faculty should be paid more relative to their education level” or “administrator salaries are too damn high.”  Or even high-level White House summits and public shaming about sticker price.  So we’re still waiting for the heat to be replaced with light.
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secundem_artem
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2012, 1:15:28 PM »

What the article is missing is data on what percentage of university expenses are faculty salaries? I am willing to bet that number has fallen in recent years. Then we can figure administrative salaries--not just what presidents make, but what percentage of the total budget goes towards administration? I am willing to bet we will find sharp increases.

Is anyone running this sort of data?

We don't have good detailed data on this.  The best standardized source is IPEDS, but because IPEDS breaks expenditures only into broad categories like "instruction" and "academic support," it doesn't provide detailed data on how much of those expenditures comprise faculty salary as opposed to departmental operating expenses, library materials, or computer labs and support.  For that matter, it doesn't even separate salary from non-salary compensation; the cost to colleges of health insurance is growing by leaps and bounds, and while it's harder to see that in our paychecks, it's a real cost driver for the institution.

For the same reason, it's hard to get at the real root of administrative increases.  Because the term "administration" is applied to so many people, it's difficult to know where the problem is.  Is the problem extra VPs, extra assistant deans, extra mid-level academic support types like instructional technologists and advisors and skills instructors, extra development officers, etc.?  Until we can locate the growth, we can’t tell how bad it is.  Some of those administrators are there to respond to increased regulatory requirements (like oversight on federal grant spending, safety regulations, expanded IPEDS collections, etc.).  Some of them are there to deal with increased expectations of doing business (for example, the people in the registrar’s office who manage online registration, especially during off hours when students tend to register).  Some of them are there because institutions decide that they need to provide academic and non-academic support services like tutoring, counseling, and wellness.  Some of them are there because the fundraising imperative causes institutions to add more development staff.  And, of course, while featherbedding and waste and empire-building are much less prevalent than critics would believe, they are capable of happening anywhere. 

SHEEO did a report last year that focused on staffing headcounts, not on salary.  The report noted that on a per-student basis, over the last decade, the number of employees in three areas – clerical, maintenance/skilled, and executive/managerial – declined by over 20%.  The number of faculty declined by 4% (full-timers down 9%, part-timers up 2%).  The only groups to see an increase were “other professionals,” which rose by 6%, and “graduate assistants,” which rose by 1%. 

To me that suggests that the source of growth is those folks in the middle who staff operations like the counseling center and financial aid.  But who wants to tell a prospective student, “Our school doesn’t waste your money on bells and whistles like a tutoring operation or IT support?”
 
It’s a huge and complex question that really can’t be solved by “faculty should be paid more relative to their education level” or “administrator salaries are too damn high.”  Or even high-level White House summits and public shaming about sticker price.  So we’re still waiting for the heat to be replaced with light.


Fascinating discussion to which I will add one anecdotal factoid on the bit I've bolded above.  When I first came to my uni, we had 2 full time non-academic members of our college.  Both were secretaries.  In the intervening 20 years, between student services folks, IT support, various support staff for experiential learning etc, we now have about 12 members of the college who are not academics.  Our class size is roughly the same.  So maybe that constitutes 'bloat'.

But on the flip side, our curriculum is massively different than 20 years ago, so is our pedagogy and our assessment.  I no longer work in a '3 lectures a week, 2 multiple choice midterms and a final exam' environment.  Our service learning component for our major increased from 12 weeks to 45 weeks - which in turn required both faculty to teach in it and support staff to keep the wheels turning.

On top of that, accrediting bodies have imposed a blizzard of new regulations and guidelines that are both difficult and expensive to implement - e.g. we are now required by our accrediting body to physically interview all prospective students.  Got any idea how much time that takes for several hundred applicants a year?

So yes, higher education has gotten a lot more expensive, but it seems a lot of the discussion where people are anxious to assign blame to somebody other than themselves is only part of the story.  This job is way different than it used to be and since (as far as I can tell) education is not scalable, unlike most other industries we've not been very good at becoming more efficient.  So all we are is more expensive.

No doubt there are others who can support or refute these points using data instead of personal experience, but as an empirical argument I think this makes sense.

 
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In my opinion, Secundem_artem is precisely correct. 

I think secundem_artem, rather, has hit the nail on the head.
spinnaker
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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2012, 6:33:20 PM »

If you hold a full time college teaching position and need more money you can take an extra job during the summer.
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gekko
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2012, 7:22:58 PM »

I posed a question about a year ago and received basically no answer so I'll ask again:

For those of you who believe your compensation is not in line with non-academic roles in your field, positions for those with similar training, positions available in general, or any other metric, what would you prefer given similar overall conditions?

What I mean by the above is that I doubt not only that you would accept a greater potential for job loss for increase in compensation (as is the case with nearly everyone in an industry role) but that you would certainly not agree to be compensated on a merit based formula, even if able to choose your own metrics from among many. (Teaching evaluations, enrollment in your courses, number/size of publications, output metrics of students, number of citations to your work, etc.)

While I don't expect to receive an actual yes or no answer to the questions above, I am looking forward to a cartoon-like example of whatever business man or academic administrator is used as an example for why you should be given more despite the total lack of an apples to apples comparison.



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daniel_von_flanagan
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« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2012, 9:24:20 PM »

What I mean by the above is that I doubt not only that you would accept a greater potential for job loss for increase in compensation (as is the case with nearly everyone in an industry role) but that you would certainly not agree to be compensated on a merit based formula, even if able to choose your own metrics from among many. (Teaching evaluations, enrollment in your courses, number/size of publications, output metrics of students, number of citations to your work, etc.)
You mean greater potential for job loss than tenure denial? - DvF
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southerntransplant
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« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2012, 10:17:30 PM »

What I mean by the above is that I doubt not only that you would accept a greater potential for job loss for increase in compensation (as is the case with nearly everyone in an industry role) but that you would certainly not agree to be compensated on a merit based formula, even if able to choose your own metrics from among many. (Teaching evaluations, enrollment in your courses, number/size of publications, output metrics of students, number of citations to your work, etc.)
You mean greater potential for job loss than tenure denial? - DvF

Yeah, no kidding. Nothing says "the easy life" like "publish or perish."
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anthroid
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« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2012, 10:35:52 PM »

What I mean by the above is that I doubt not only that you would accept a greater potential for job loss for increase in compensation (as is the case with nearly everyone in an industry role) but that you would certainly not agree to be compensated on a merit based formula, even if able to choose your own metrics from among many. (Teaching evaluations, enrollment in your courses, number/size of publications, output metrics of students, number of citations to your work, etc.)
You mean greater potential for job loss than tenure denial? - DvF

Yeah, no kidding. Nothing says "the easy life" like "publish or perish."

Like at least a few folks here, I've worked outside the academy for a long tme.  It is WAY easier to get another job as, say, a paralegal (which, BTW, pays about the same as a beginning ass't prof job) than it is to get another ass't prof job.  We inhabit an odd and punitive world, we academics.  Our world is very different than that of the corporate one.
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janewales
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« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2012, 10:49:53 PM »

I posed a question about a year ago and received basically no answer so I'll ask again:

For those of you who believe your compensation is not in line with non-academic roles in your field, positions for those with similar training, positions available in general, or any other metric, what would you prefer given similar overall conditions?

What I mean by the above is that I doubt not only that you would accept a greater potential for job loss for increase in compensation (as is the case with nearly everyone in an industry role) but that you would certainly not agree to be compensated on a merit based formula, even if able to choose your own metrics from among many. (Teaching evaluations, enrollment in your courses, number/size of publications, output metrics of students, number of citations to your work, etc.)

While I don't expect to receive an actual yes or no answer to the questions above, I am looking forward to a cartoon-like example of whatever business man or academic administrator is used as an example for why you should be given more despite the total lack of an apples to apples comparison.



Gekko, I'm not sure I understand the question you're trying to ask here. My whole career is already focused around metrics: I had to meet  stringent standards to get my job, to keep my job, to get my promotions, and now that I'm through those hoops, I'm still evaluated every year, chiefly on my publications and my teaching, for merit pay. Since we rarely get general raises, merit pay is one of the few ways my salary goes up. Another way is if my institution decides that I'm likely to receive strong interest from other places, and again, that interest only comes if I'm performing well according to the usual metrics. There's already a pretty direct correlation, for me anyway, between how I perform and how much money I make.

In other words, your question seems to suggest that we're not currently assessed, but we are. I'm fine with that, too; I have absolutely no difficulty being evaluated regularly. Now, when metrics are stupid in some way, by which I mean not connected to well-established professional standards or probable outcomes, then sure, I'll oppose them, but to challenge bad metrics is not the same as opposing all assessment.

I'm not going to offer you cartoon-like examples, and I have to say that your own formulation of the situation seems pretty cartoonish to me. But perhaps I've not understood your point (and that might be why you didn't get responses when you first asked the question). Is tenure the issue you're actually getting at? If so, that's a slightly different discussion from compensation and evaluation, isn't it?

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david_perlmutter
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« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2012, 1:04:09 AM »

http://chronicle.com/article/faculty-salaries-barely-budge-2012/131432

The debate isn't going to be "reframed" on the basis of the quotes and profiles in this article, or even the actual report in Academe.  I can't quibble with the substance of the report, of course; it is true that the long-term drop in state and federal appropriations has caused universities to shift cost burdens toward students in the form of higher tuitions, and that individual faculty pay is growing more slowly than the economy as a whole and more slowly than sticker-price tuition.

But by complaining about presidential pay, the report plays into the larger narrative that the Chronicle says they want to change.  The AAUP is asking, Who should get the money, presidents or professors?  But the public doesn't care; they just want to spend less on their education.

The AAUP also fails to acknowledge that while individual faculty salaries are stagnating, collective faculty salaries continue to rise, which drives up costs, which will keep on pushing up tuition.  Since there are some first-rate economists on the Committee on Economic Status, I am surprised that they do not want to acknowledge the role that Baumol's cost disease plays in the economics of higher education.

The Chronicle article also gives undeserved extra life to the execrable David Levy essay.  Moving away from the how-hard-do-we-work trope would also help the debate.  The best analogy I heard during that dustup was this:  No one claims that the workweek of the professional athlete includes only actual game time, or that the workweek of clergy includes only the hours of worship services, or that lthe workweek of lawyers includes only the hours spent in court.  These professionals need time to practice and prepare, and so do professors.  If we could make this point clearer, we could avoid the distraction of who suffers the most.


Very well put!
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