April 14, 2013

Report: Cornell Professors’ Average Salaries Dip Slightly

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The average salary for full professors at Cornell decreased by $2,000 — or 1.2-percent — between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years, according to a report released earlier this month by the American Association of University Professors.

The average salary for associate professors fell by $2,300, a 2-percent decrease, while the average salary for assistant professors rose by $800, a 0.82-percent increase, according to the report.

The average salary for full professors at Cornell — which amounts to $159,800 — is the lowest compared to all other Ivy League schools, according to the report.

Nationally, the average increase in full-time faculty salary was 1.7 percent, a figure that fell below the 2.1-percent inflation rate for 2012.

Elmira Magnum, vice president for planning and budget, said she thinks that figure — the average increase in full-time faculty’s salaries — fails to take into account retiring faculty and new hires.

“It is important to note that 1.7 percent does not represent the average change in salary for individuals. Instead, it represents the percent change in the amount paid to all faculty in 2011-12 compared to 2012-13,” she said in an email. “This fails to take into account that some faculty leave and others are hired.”

According to Magnum, the average change in salaries for continuing faculty — faculty members remaining at Cornell in 2012–13 from the previous year — is a more meaningful figure to consider.

Mangum said continuing faculty at Cornell saw a 3.8-percent increase in salaries between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years. In comparison, continuing faculty across all institutions saw a 3.2 percent increase in salaries, she said.

The increase in the average salary for continuing faculty is higher than that for all faculty due to retirements, which allows the University to raise the salary for continuing faculty, according to Prof. Ronald Ehrenberg, industrial labor and relations.

“There are retirements that cause fairly expensive older professors to leave and they are replaced by cheaper assistant professors,” he said. “This allows the college to increase the average salaries of all continuing faculty a bit more.”

The report also said that a growing number of contingent faculty — non-tenure full-time faculty, part-time faculty members and graduate student employees — “rarely have access to benefits from their academic employers and have little or no job security, despite graduate degrees and years of experience.” The report added that the lack of support contingent faculty receives “translates into a lower-quality educational experience for students.”

However, this is not the case at Cornell, according to Ehrenberg.

“The Cornell faculty long ago adopted a policy that has encouraged the administration to not substitute the tenure faculty with non-tenure track faculty for financial reasons — to only do so for academic [reasons],” he said. “Over the years, this has led to Cornell being a university with one of the highest proportion of tenure-track faculty in the country.”

Though the percentage of Cornell faculty who are not on the tenure track has gone up from 14.4 percent in 2011-12 to 14.8 percent in 2012-13, the University has ensured it continues to provide a high quality of education, according to Mangum.

“I do think it fair to say that hiring decisions are not motivated by benefit expenses, and Cornell makes hiring decisions in the best interest of the educational experience and is committed to delivering a quality education for all of its students,” she said.

The report also highlighted the growing disparity between private and public academic institutions. However, such a gap is not present between the endowed colleges and the contract colleges at Cornell, according to Ehrenberg.

“Although at Cornell, there are some differences between the endowed and the state colleges, we have been fortunate to have the ability to raise tuition in the public side of Cornell also that has helped us,” he said. “We raised tuition by the same amount for both endowed and state schools that helped increase the salaries for professors in both the schools.”

Ehrenberg attributed substantial increases in contract colleges’ faculty salaries to the ability Cornell has to increase tuition in all colleges.

“Because of the freedom we have to increase tuition and due to the endowment and gifts Cornell receives, the salaries in the our contract colleges have increased substantially relative to [State University of New York] faculty salaries at other SUNY campuses over the last 15 years,” he said.

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Original Author: Manu Rathore