The inflation underscores years of stagnation in faculty salaries


Average salaries for full-time faculty members increased 2 percent from 2020-21 to 2021-22, according to an analysis by the American Association of University Professors released today.

This is consistent with flat wage growth since the Great Recession. But 2021/22 wasn’t just another year: Factoring in 40 years of high inflation, real wages for full-time faculty members fell 5 percent. This is the largest recorded one-year drop since the AAUP began tracking this measure in 1972.

Average salaries for full-time employees also fell below Great Recession levels in 2021, with the average salary falling 2.3 percent below the 2008 average, adjusted for inflation.

This reduction in real wages was relatively consistent across college types and faculty grades.

The AAUP released a preliminary version of this analysis and other faculty salary data earlier this spring.

Glenn Colby, a senior researcher for the AAUP and author of both reports, said Tuesday that this year he has received an unusual number of requests from AAUP chapters and other faculty groups seeking payroll data and advice. They all want help to argue that their institutions need to respond meaningfully to inflation.

“I would just encourage institutions to make adjustments that preserve living standards so they don’t lose talented employees,” Colby said. “That’s the market comparison.”

Some colleges and universities have attempted to counteract inflation with short-term measures. Carnegie Mellon University announced this month that it is offering eligible employees a one-time payment of $1,500 to help pay for things like gas, food and more. (A earnings increase program will also be passed for fiscal year 2023.) But while such ideas are generally welcome, they fall short for many professors who will face a combination of wage freezes, actual or effective pay and benefit cuts, and workload increases throughout the year faced pandemic – all as endowments have grown at many wealthy universities.

Jeffrey Williams, a Carnegie Mellon professor of English and Literature and Cultural Studies unconnected to the new AAUP report, said Tuesday that instead of paying $1,500, “backdated pay increases would be more progressive.” Without that, wage freezes and effective cuts would accumulate over the course of a career.


The AAUP’s new report is primarily based on the group’s annual faculty compensation survey. Data collection for the survey ended in March, and preliminary results were released in April for colleges and universities to use as benchmarks in setting their own salary data for the next academic year. The message here, Colby reiterated, is that as institutions think about their costs over the next year, they should also think about “what it costs to keep faculty. That means maintaining their standard of living, not just keeping the campus open. Because after a while, people start doing other careers.”

An April report by the College and University Professional Association – Human Resources also found that “skyrocketing inflation has far outpaced wage increases for college workers.” Based on CUPA-HR’s own annual employee surveys for 2021-22, median total salaries for administrators increased 3.4 percent year over year, while salaries for tenure track and non-tenure track teachers increased 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively . This contrasted with a still rising inflation rate of 6.8 percent. Inflation is now over 8 percent.

Good news for faculty members: 97.2 percent of full-time faculty members were covered by pension plans in the most recent academic year, up 2.8 percentage points from the previous year. According to the report, after last year’s 2.4 percentage point drop in coverage from 2019-20, “this year’s increase indicates that some facilities may have restored benefits that were eliminated or reduced in 2020-21 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic The average spend for insured faculty members was $11,835, which is 11.3 percent of the average salary for all full-time faculty members. Average institutional spending on retirement plans was $11,788 per full-time faculty member, including those not covered, which is 11 percent of the median salary of $104,092 for the 850 institutions reporting benefit data.

The percentage of full-time faculty members who are eligible to participate in health insurance plans has remained constant year over year at 94.5 percent of full-time faculty members, with an average spend of $12,461 for insured faculty members (or 11.9 percent of the average). Salary).

The AAUP’s new analysis, officially dubbed the “Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2021-22,” includes additional insights on gender and faculty rank and more.

gender matters

Given the persistent long-term wage gap between men and women, institutions reported an average of 81.9 percent of full-time teaching salaries for women in 2021-22. The gender pay gap is greatest for full professors.

While some attribute this gap to “market factors” and the over-representation of women in lower-paying disciplines, the report states: “Little is known about how such market factors work, and there are many other factors that contribute to the gender pay gap, according to science.” , including biases in hiring and promotion practices, lack of institutional resources and support, and caring responsibilities. If gender pay gaps are identified, they definitely need to be corrected.”

The report includes an additional “gender equity” analysis, which finds that the number (not the proportion) of women full-time faculty members has increased by 1.6 percent over the past two years, as opposed to a decrease of 2.5 percent percent for men. This difference was larger at the rank of full-time professor, where the number of full-time professors increased by 5.9 percent in two years, compared to a decrease of 1.9 percent for men. The AAUP notes that these statistics come only from institutions that have participated in their faculty compensation survey in each of the last three years, and that men still vastly outnumber women at the full professorial rank.

Still, the AAUP hypothesizes the increase in the number of female full professors: Because men are more likely to hold appointments to full professorships, “it is possible that COVID-19 risks, budget cuts and changing working conditions have caused more of them to retire early walk.”

part-time faculty

About 907 institutions responded to the AAUP Salary Survey, but only 355 of them reported salaries per course for part-time faculty (this is typical, as colleges and universities have difficulty collecting and sharing faculty data for a variety of reasons). The surveyed salaries per course are also backed by a year and reflect 2020-21 rates to ensure a full year of data is available. All in all, the average pay per course for a three-credit course last year was $3,843 per segment, an increase of 8.1 percent from 2019 to 2020, when the average pay was $3,556.

Average salary rates varied widely between institutional types, ranging from $2,979 at public associate institutions without faculty ranks to $5,557 at public doctoral institutions, the report said. She calls all these wages “appalling”.

Aside from pay, most per-course paid supplemental workers received no pension or health insurance contributions in 2020-21. About 34.7 percent of institutions reported contributing to retirement plans for some or all part-time faculty members, and 30.9 percent of institutions contributed to health insurance premiums.

Adjuncts were actually more likely to receive benefits at associate institutions, with 53.5 percent of those colleges contributing to their pension plans. At 55 percent, doctoral institutions were the most likely to contribute to the health insurance premiums of resident physicians.

Based on a supplemental AAUP analysis of the federal integrated postsecondary education data system, conditional appointments to faculty decreased 6.9 percent from fall 2019 to fall 2020. breathtaking” 8.7 percent drop in part-time jobs.

Regarding the ongoing pandemic, part-time faculty members appear to have experienced “a much greater negative impact than full-time faculty members,” the report continued.

Based on the AAUP’s own data from 383 institutions, which split the numbers from both years, the number of part-time faculty members employed throughout the academic year decreased by 10.6 percent from 2019-20 to 2020-21 .

Full-time faculty members increased 1.9 percent among the 889 institutions that completed the fall 2019 and fall 2020 survey.

“It’s clear that contingent faculty have been hammered with staff cuts during COVID-19,” Colby said. Meanwhile, the number of assistant professors fell, likely due to hiring freezes, he added.

Seth Kahn, an English studies professor at Pennsylvania’s West Chester University and an advocate of non-tenure-track faculty rights, said he understands that “contingent faculty have had a harder time for many reasons. Fluctuations in enrollment have led to unstable workloads, even more unstable.”


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