Friday, July 29, 2011

The Truth about Faculty Compensation

I've now found the latest IBHE report on faculty and civil service compensation at Illinois universities that President Poshard apparently was talking about on the radio on Monday.

Executive summary: Despite real gains in the last contract, we are still behind our peers, especially when our lousy pensions are taken into account. In FY 2010, total compensation (salary plus benefits) for faculty was only 93.6% percent of our peers. The average SIUC faculty member received $6000 less in compensation than he or she would have received at a peer institution. The 2% pay cut last year put us still further behind.

I'm going to try to get to my day job today, so won't devote this entire afternoon to digesting it for you, but I'll flag a few numbers after the break. Plus, there's a graph, of course.

  • President Poshard's numbers were confused, at least if he was using this report. He seemed to be saying either that faculty got a 6% raise "last year" or that they got a 6% raise over the term of the contract. Neither of these statements is true: we never got a 6% raise in one year, and we got more than that over the life of the FY 2006-2010 contract.
  • That contract did allow SIUC faculty to receive higher percentage raises than most other Illinois faculty and than our peers.  Our salaries went up by 16% (Table 3), while the state average was 12.3% during the same period.  During the same time the consumer price index went up by 10.1% (Table 1).
  • We are still behind our peers, though this contract helped. In FY 2006 our salaries were 94.9% of what our peers make; by FY 2010 we were making 97%.  
  • We, as other Illinois public university employees, are vastly shortchanged on pensions--and this is before the recent attempt to cut our pensions still further. State wide, Illinois spends little more than half as much on faculty pensions (56.2%) as do peer institutions (see page 181 of the study)--mainly because it is one of the few states not to both fund pensions and to contribute to Social Security. Illinois spends more on health care benefits than our peers do, but the vast deficit in pension payments far outweighs this. 
  • Total compensation for SIUC faculty (salary + benefits) is 93.6% of peers (table 15, page 183). That is, where the average faculty member at SIUC (this includes lecturers and instructors) makes, in salary and fringe benefits, $89,100, the median figure for peer institutions is $95,100. See the graph below for how SIUC stacks up against peers (poorly) and against other Illinois schools (not so badly). You should be able to click on it to enlarge it.


    1. "mainly because it is one of the few states not to both fund pensions and to contribute to Social Security"

      One of the things critics of Illinois pensions fail to mention: unlike private sector employers, the State does not have to pay 13%+ toward Social Security. Any private employer would give his/her eyeteeth to be exempt from that payroll tax! But when comparing compensation with private sector, they always ignore this huge factor. On other hand, as someone born at the very tail end of the Baby Boom, I'm glad I'm not under the Social Security Fraud.

    2. More details:

      Different universities are compared to different sets of peers. That explains why SIUC looks better on the graph than UIUC, even though UIUC faculty earn more money (Table 7).

      Non-tenure track faculty -- who haven't been represented by a union until recently -- are underpaid at SIUC. Instructors' salaries are 79.6% of the peer median. Lecturers' salaries are 87.9% of the peer median. Total compensation probably is even worse for the NTTs (Table 5).

      Salaries for full professors, associate professors, and assistant professors at SIUC are 98.5%, 98.3% and 98.7% of the peer group median (Table 5). Relative to the peers, full professors and associate professors are barely more underpaid than assistant professors. Maybe the peers have compression problems similar to SIUC's compression problems?

    3. You're certainly right to note that instructors and lecturers appear to be much worse off here than at our peers--and it is this that accounts for a big chunk of the salary differential. I hesitated to mention this because I wonder if there are problems of definitions with these ranks (especially the distinction between lecturer and instructor: I've seen some charts where some institutions report no instructors at all; some places may also have NTT 'visiting' assistant professors).

      To repeat a point I made in an earlier post on this theme: salaries aren't the thing dividing faculty and administration (especially TT salaries, which weren't all that bad, at least before the furloughs and pay freeze last year). Unilateral cuts to salaries are a problem not so much because they'd put us below peers (though they would) as because they undermine collective bargaining (why bargain a contract which one side can break?). And erosion of tenure rights is a still larger problem.


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