State budget cuts mean MU salaries stay low

Monday, May 10, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 9:42 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 11, 2010

COLUMBIA ­– MU faculty salaries fell to last place among Association of American Universities schools this year, and MU officials say the ranking isn't expected to improve in the near future.

The average salary for all ranked faculty at the 35 AAU public institutions is $96,382, according to the 2009-10 Report on the Economic Status of the Profession from the American Association of University Professors.

AAU rankings

At the top of the list of AAU rankings in 2009-2010 is the University of California, Los Angeles, with an average salary of $125,365 for all ranked professors.

MU, though ranked lower than all other Big 12 schools in the AAU, isn't completely alone; KU and Nebraska are also ranked near the bottom of the list.

KU ranks No. 32 for all ranked faculty ($88,100), No. 29 for full professors ($116,900), No. 31 for associate professors ($79,300) and No. 33 for assistant professors ($65,900).

Nebraska is No. 30 for all ranked faculty ($87,300), No. 31 for full professors ($112,000), No. 32 for associate professors ($77,200) and No. 30 for assistant professors ($68,900).

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The average for all ranked MU faculty is $81,656, which puts the university in last place. Oregon was the only school that ranked below MU in 2008-09, but it jumped ahead this year. Oregon's average faculty salary is now $82,321.

The data shows that MU also ranked last on the list in salaries for  assistant professors ($60,749) and associate professors ($74,114).  Salaries for full professors ($110,997) rank No. 34 out of 35 schools.

Salaries for assistant professors were at the bottom of the list for 2008-09, but   associate professors were at No. 33 out of 34 schools and full professors were at No. 31. Georgia Tech was added to the list this year, increasing the number of comparative public universities to 35.

A total of 1,069 MU faculty made up the data set, said Ann Patton, a programmer analyst expert for the university. This number does not include instructors, part-time staff or faculty from the medical school.

MU Deputy Provost Ken Dean said the consistently low rankings are due to the state's lower-than-average funding per capita for higher education.

“Missouri ranks between 40 and 50 in terms of funding from the state,” Dean said.

For the 2008-09 academic year, MU faculty members received their highest pay increases since 1998-99, MU Budget Director Tim Rooney said. This year, state budget cuts necessitated a freeze on merit increases.

In a deal between UM System President Gary Forsee  and Gov. Jay Nixon, the university budget would not exceed 5.2 percent in fiscal year 2011 if undergraduate in-state tuition remained the same.

At MU, the cut amounts to $10 million. That means the university will receive less money on July 1 than it did in 2001, Rooney said.

“It’s just hard to overcome that $10 million,” he said.

Pay increases are a top priority for MU employees, according to a recent employee benefits survey, but Dean said the university isn’t able to address that issue right now.

“We certainly wish we were in a position to give raises,” he said. “I think it’s important to be able to reward faculty and staff who have been productive, and it’s unfortunate to be in this situation.”

However, university officials were clear that no one is to blame.

“The governor and the legislature are doing all they can to help higher education,” Rooney said.

“The low monetary amount per capita is just a fact of life, but they have really protected higher education in the last year."

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Eric Niewoehner May 10, 2010 | 10:08 a.m.

Just a note to your business reporting professors. Whenever nominal figures are reported they produce a rather inaccurate perspective of actual real economic conditions. Lets say that the cost of housing in Columbia is roughly 41% that of some areas along the West Coast. In other words, the $125K figure for LA professors is roughly $52K in Columbia.

Now contrast the $52K with the $92K average salary for ranked professors in Columbia. Instead of living in a charming bungalo in suburban LA, they live in a spacious home with a large yard, send their kids to far better schools, live in less density and traffic, and some have a farm. Not bad, really.

The issue is not the size of the salary, but the ability of the University to attract and keep quality faculty, especially those who can develop and maintain reputable research programs (gosh, they may even teach).

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 15, 2010 | 7:56 a.m.

This article was sent to another UM System campus for faculty comment.

Their comment: It's really not so bad. Who else would pay an English major $80K?

[It's nice to see that in these hard economic times not everyone has lost his/her sense of humor.]

(Report Comment)

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