Pay Unequal Across Schools
Published: Friday, April 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 11:04
Despite statistics released by the American Association of University Professors earlier this month placing Georgetown faculty among the top-paid professors in the country, professors and administrators agree that the university’s faculty compensation policies are in need of improvement.
According to Provost James O’Donnell, salaries for arts and sciences faculty lag behind those of professors in the McDonough School of Business and the Georgetown University Law Center, and statistics like those from the AAUP distort what Georgetown actually pays its faculty.
The statistics, which were featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2012 Faculty Salary Survey, suggest that full professors at Georgetown will make, on average, $167,100 this academic year, representing an increase of 5 percent since last year and making Georgetown the 16th highest-paying university of the 1,251 surveyed in the United States.
Associate and assistant professors also saw a 5 percent bump in their pay, earning $109,000 and $94,400 respectively, according to the survey statistics.
But O’Donnell said that the AAUP numbers mask what the majority of professors are really paid.
“These numbers aren’t that helpful because they include law, business and liberal arts professors all in one clump,” O’Donnell said. “Let’s just say that some of the lawyers … do OK, and that hurts with averages.”
According to a September 2010 memorandum sent by President of the Faculty Senate and Chair of the Philosophy Department Wayne Davis to the Main Campus Planning Committee regarding the faculty salary plan, average yearly pay was actually about $20,000 lower than the AAUP number when calculated to exclude professors in the MSB and the Law Center.
In fiscal year 2010, the average salary for arts and sciences faculty, which includes professors in the College, the School of Foreign Service and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, was $126,782. The figure reported by the AAUP was $155,500.
The average salaries for arts and sciences associate professors and assistant professors in fiscal year 2010 were $87,974 and $70,215 respectively, while the AAUP figures were $100,700 and $83,600, respectively.
Data for salaries among arts and sciences faculty are not available for 2011 and 2012, but O’Donnell said there are still wide disparities between the income levels of professors in the university’s different schools, although these gaps are consistent with trends across the United States.
“Each school pays its faculty according to the market and demand in that field,” he said. “At its extreme, there’s probably a full professor whom you could put side by side with another full professor, and one would be making twice as much as the other.”
The AAUP figures also fail to account for the comparably low wages of full-time adjunct faculty, upon which the university has become increasingly reliant in recent years. According to Davis, there are now 200 adjunct faculty members, a figure that has almost doubled in the past decade. Georgetown employs 2,173 full- and part-time faculty members overall.
Sarah Stiles, an adjunct professor in the sociology department and winner of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2011, said that her salary of $46,162 for a full load of three courses per semester does not compensate her appropriately. Stiles attributes her low pay to the fact that she teaches in the College.
“Objectively speaking, I’ve got these facts that show I’m good at what I do, but it doesn’t matter,” she said.
Stiles, who supplements her income by instructing two courses over the summer for $5,000 each, said that she sacrificed making money as a practicing lawyer because of her love of teaching.
“I love my job. That’s it,” she said. “The job is labor-intensive. I have a lot of students, a lot of papers, a lot of letters and sometimes I’ll get friends saying when it comes to all these letters, ‘They don’t pay you enough to do that,’ so obviously it’s not about the pay.”
Stiles recognized, however, that the income inequities between departments are endemic to the entire United States and do not represent a problem confined to Georgetown.
“Academia is a fairly exploitative industry across the United States,” Stiles said. “This is not just Georgetown. … It’s the market.”
Nonetheless, administrators recognized that Georgetown lags behind its chief competitors in faculty compensation and is taking measures to fill the gap. According to Davis, full professor compensation at Georgetown is 15 percent lower than the average among members of the Consortium for Financing Higher Education, a group of elite colleges in the United States that includes 31 schools.
Davis said efforts to address the disparity, which include a faculty salary plan adopted in 2000, come after years of university neglect of the issue.
“We’re making up for the fact that for decades, the university wasn’t responding to it,” Davis said. “From the president on down, people are aware of the problems and are fixing them aggressively. Everyone is aware that to run top-notch institutions, you have to have the best faculty.”
O’Donnell added that most faculty members are aware of the financial constraints Georgetown faces.