There and Back Again
The latest AAUP salary survey is out and tenure-track faculty salaries at UO remain dead last when compared to our AAU peers. This is not, of course, the first time we have ranked last, but it is disappointing to see us fall further behind.
The UO has eight designated AAU peers, schools we compare ourselves to and compete with: UC-Santa Barbara, the University of Colorado-Boulder, Indiana University-Bloomington, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, and the University of Washington.
Our comparators achieved substantial salary increases, while tenure-track faculty salaries at UO held relatively steady.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
In 2014, UO tenure-track faculty made positive strides to catch up to our peers. Full Professor salaries grew by 7.1% in relation to our peers, Associate Professor salaries saw 8.0% growth, and Assistant Professor salaries grew 3.6% in comparison.
These comparative jumps were the result of the first round of collective bargaining. In the second round of bargaining, Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration, touted this comparative increase. She congratulated us all on coming close to accomplishing the mission of the 2000 Senate White Paper on Faculty Salaries – having salaries of all three tenure track ranks within 95% of those of our comparators.
Unfortunately, the administration’s bargaining team immediately undercut this achievement by offering all faculty a mere 1% raise over two years. Over several months of negotiations we managed to salvage 8% raises over three years, but even those relatively low raises have caused the administration to fret about budgets in future years.
What Is To Be Done?
The only way for the UO faculty to climb up from the bottom is for the administration to commit to recruiting and retaining excellent faculty. Certainly, many factors contribute to one’s decision to come to (or stay at!) Oregon, but salary is always a main consideration. We cannot recruit and retain the best and brightest of the new faculty if we are offering only the lowest salaries. As President Schill has said, Eugene is a wonderful place, but there must be a commitment to excellence. The administration must address the costs in research opportunity, faculty morale and vitality, and curricular continuity when excellent colleagues leave for greener pastures.
We must also recognize the excellence we have. We have tried to do this through the collective bargaining agreement; no less than half of all raises bargained by United Academics have been merit raises to recognize excellence. Faculty in their units, in conjunction with the deans and Provost, crafted merit review policies to recognize and reward the hard and fruitful work of the faculty. The union has always bargained for more money in merit pools than the administration was willing to give. It is time for the administration to prioritize excellence in faculty compensation when they are budgeting for the university. As we have always proclaimed, Budgets Reflect Priorities.
Speaking to the campus community on April 12th, President Schill said, “I go to sleep at night saying my goals (are) having this university move up, move up, move up, so that we will be compared to UCLA, Michigan and Virginia; I don’t go to sleep at night saying that’s not going to happen.”
Average Salary (dollars in thousands)
|UC – Los Angeles||187.8||122.6||97.9|
|University of Michigan||167.5||111.6||95.3|
|University of Virginia||164.9||111.3||94.5|
|Aspirational Peer Average||173.4||115.2||95.9|
|UO per Academe||127.5||91.5||84.3|
|UO Percentage of Aspirational Peers||73.5%||79.4%||87.9%|
Note: Salary figures represent the contracted salary, excluding summer teaching, stipends, extra load, or other forms of compensation including benefits.
Data Source: Academe March-April 2016. Chart inspired by the work of Marie Vitulli, made by United Academics Staff
An Injury to Jane Is An Injury to All
This year the AAUP report featured a look at salaries by gender. In both rounds of bargaining, United Academics pressed the university to address salary equity issues. In the first round of bargaining, the administration put a small amount of money toward addressing compression and inversion in the tenure-related ranks. In the last round of bargaining, however, the administration was unwilling to dedicate any money toward addressing this issue and was only willing to agree to an equity study, although they did agree to make salary issues related to gender part of the study.
Below is a chart that compares salary disparities within tenure-related ranks among our comparator institutions. Of course, these numbers are calculated with a broad brush, failing to capture differences between colleges, within departments, etc., but they are a first step in understanding how gender impacts salaries in the academy.
Ratio between the average salary for women by rank divided by the average men’s salary, times 100
|UC – Santa Barbara||86.9%||96.5%||100.4%|
|University of Colorado – Boulder||91.5%||93.0%||87.9%|
|Indiana University – Bloomington||90.0%||91.1%||85.1%|
|University of Iowa||89.6%||89.3%||84.7%|
|University of Michigan||90.0%||95.1%||94.0%|
|U. North Carolina – Chapel Hill||85.5%||95.5%||87.8%|
|University of Virginia||85.8%||93.5%||89.7%|
|University of Washington||91.6%||93.0%||92.6%|
Note: “Salary Equity” refers to the ratio between the average salary for women by rank divided by the average men’s salary, times 100. For example, if an institution had an average woman’s salary for an assistant professor of $100,000 and an average man’s salary for an assistant professor of $100,000, the gender equity ratio would be at 100.0, or parity. A ratio below 100 indicates the cents on the dollar of an average woman’s salary below a man’s average salary at that rank, and a ratio above 100 indicates the average woman’s salary above a man’s average salary at that rank.
Data Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/aaup-compensation-survey. Chart inspired by the work of Marie Vitulli, made by United Academics Staff
What these numbers reveal may not be a surprise, but that makes them no less disgraceful. There is no explanation outside of discrimination on the basis of gender to account for the near universal fact of women’s salaries being lower than men’s salaries in the academy. While the University of Oregon may be doing better on this issue than most, there is still no legitimate reason for these inequities to continue to exist at all.
Work to Do
Once again, we find ourselves falling further behind. Once again, we have more work to do. Our first step must be to keep working with the administration, helping them understand that the University of Oregon cannot continue to underpay its faculty. President Schill has talked about hard choices and tough sacrifices. We know plenty about sacrificing for the UO. In order to maintain our ranking as one of the nation’s premier universities, we not only need more tenure-track faculty, we need excellent tenure-track faculty. We cannot recruit and retain an excellent faculty with these numbers coming out year after year. The administration must make a commitment to the faculty and a commitment to fixing the twin problems of bottom-ranking pay and disparities based on gender. Fixing these problems is a key to retaining our AAU ranking and flourishing in the coming years.
 The AAUP also tracks “Instructor” salaries, but these comparisons are considered almost worthless because different universities use different titles for their NTTF and there is no consistency in reporting on these data.
 To be completely fair, Assistant Professors at UO earn $500 more than Assistant Professors at the University of Iowa.
 The average Full Professor salary grew by $1,300; Associate Professors saw a $500 decline on average; and Assistant Professor salaries increased by only $500.
 The average Full Professor comparator salary grew by $4,300; comparator Associate Professors saw a $4,100 increase on average; and comparator Assistant Professor salaries increased by $4,200.
 Does the report mean “sex”? It is difficult to say and one imagines that universities use the words interchangeably.