"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Academic Hierarchies: Let the Numbers Speak for Themselves (Part 1)

 Grad University is a public institution. As such, faculty and staff salaries are a matter of public record. In years past, the undergraduate newspaper, controversially, has published an annual listing of all faculty and staff salaries. My department, in its distribution of wealth, is pretty typical of English departments at public R1s.

Although the undergrads haven't put out their 2010-2011 listings yet (I sure hope they do!), the numbers for 2009-2010 are available, and I'd like to share those numbers with you, anonymously, of course, in 3 parts.

Part 1, today's post, is short and sweet. No one pursues a career as an English professor in order to become rich, but the gap between highest paid and lowest paid faculty is striking. Here's a snapshot:
  • The 3 highest salaries in the English department at Grad University in 2009-2010 were $175,200.00, $150,074.32, and $140,348.02 and belonged, respectively, to a full professor and program director, a full professor and program director of a different program, and a Distinguished Professor of X and famous poet (Note: academe rewards you more for directing a [derogatory adjective] program than being a nationally recognized poet).
  •  The lowest paid adjunct earned just $3,994.00. Ze only taught one class, but that is the average salary adjuncts were paid per class. Salary per class fluctuates a bit because what you get actually depends on what year you started adjuncting and where you were in the program when you did, but, give or take a few hundred, that's what you get. May not sound too bad compared to what some adjuncts get paid, but this is an expensive city. Adjuncts typically get 2-3 classes per semester, typically 5 a year (you'll see when you get tomorrow's numbers). Do the math -- and let me repeat, this is an expensive fucken city.
  • Lastly, would you expect there to be more tenure-track faculty or adjuncts? Bingo! How did you figure it was adjuncts? The breakdown is thus: 95 adjuncts, 28 full profs, 15 associate profs, 10 assistant profs. That's 95 off the tenure track, 53 on it. It goes without saying that adjuncts teach more classes. Indeed, if you eliminate service courses (like freshman comp), which only adjuncts teach, and you eliminate grad courses, which only tenure-track faculty teach, the number of credits per semester taught by both groups is about even. Has anyone heard of equal pay for equal work? Yes, those on the tenure track are paid to do more than just teach, but if you parse out an average tenure track salary (we'll get to that tomorrow) for % of time spent on teaching vs. research and service, they're still getting more than twice as much per course than adjuncts are. Fuck that!
Next post, in Part 2, you'll get the full breakdown. In Part 3, we'll compare my humble department with university administration, and that's where things get really ugly!


  1. Ohh, this is a great idea. I might have to look up the salaries in my old department for comparison...

    A few years ago, my Grad University was facing massive insurance-company mandated cuts to our health insurance coverage. I sat on a committee negotiating those cuts, and at one point we grad student members went on record in newspaper interviews with the fact that the children of more than half of graduate students and temporary faculty (the folks who were teaching a large percentage of the classes at My Grad U) were on Medicaid. In other words, that more than half of the people teaching classes at Grad U didn't make enough money to adequately care for their own children.

    The university and local paper were inundated with furious parents and citizens, incensed that Grad U wasn't paying their instructors enough money while lavishing huge salaries on professors who were barely doing any teaching.

    Of course, nothing changed, but it was very rewarding to see that the inequities got some level of public attention.

    Good on you for talking about this. I'm particularly interested in the fact that the world-renowned poet makes less than the departmental director. Internal status trumps widespread public recognition, indeed. Sad.

  2. Just out of curiosity, how much do the Assistant Professors in your Grad University make?

  3. Patience, patience. That's coming in Part 2. In fact, there's a whole mother lode of numbers coming! I have to transfer them from the online newspaper to Excel, getting rid of names and putting everything in a format where I can do the math easily. Hopefully, that post will ll be up later today.