May 31, 2003

CUT THOSE SALARIES

Concerns grow over pay gaps between professional-school professors and everyone else (Chronicle of Higher Education, )
The way Marvin Johnson sees it, business professors at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa get up every morning, teach classes, do their research, and advise students -- just as he does in the university's music school.

So when he learned last fall that the average assistant professor in the business school was earning $72,691, while the average full professor in the humanities made $63,531, he was shocked, he says. "It seemed completely out of whack."

As he began poring over salary records that were provided by the university's institutional-research office, he discovered that the spread between some disciplines was even larger. For example, he learned that the highest-paid faculty members -- those in the law school, with an average salary of $102,462 -- were earning nearly three times as much as those in library science, the lowest-paid discipline at $35,991. (The university's medical school, which is on a different campus, was not included in the data.)

He decided that something had to be done. At his urging, the university's Faculty Senate voted last month to endorse a proposal that would put a cap on raises for the most highly paid professors on the campus, many of whom are in law and business.

It is truly shocking that English professors get paid $63,000 a year to read novels, while other English Ph.D.'s, equally talented, wait tables. Universities should reduce these salaries until the supply of would-be professors equals the demand for novel-readers. I expect this would happen at about $5,378 per year. Anything more than that is a gross injustice. Posted by Paul Jaminet at May 31, 2003 9:14 AM
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