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December 4, 2014

Faculty pay fares well in cost-of-living comparison

Who has more buying power: The Pitt professor who earns $140,200 or the UCLA professor who earns $173,900?

While the average professor’s pay on the Pittsburgh campus ranked No. 16 and UCLA ranked No. 1 among 34 Association of American Universities (AAU) public institutions, an annual report that factors the cost of living (COL) into faculty salaries shows that a dollar here goes farther than in many other college towns.

The University’s fiscal year 2014 COL-adjusted salary report, presented Nov. 21 to the University Senate budget policies committee (BPC) by Amanda Brodish of the Office of the Provost, used Council for Community and Economic Research Cost of Living Index data in its comparison of Pittsburgh campus faculty salaries.

Among AAU public peers’ cities, only Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State, Texas A&M, Indiana, Kansas and Iowa had a COL lower than Pittsburgh’s.

And living costs are highest in Irvine, Berkeley, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles — cities that are home to University of California schools that rank high on faculty salary charts.

Pittsburgh campus professors moved up to No. 5 in the comparison (behind Georgia Institute of Technology, Ohio State, Texas and No. 1 Michigan) and UCLA professors fell to the middle of the pack when COL was taken into consideration.

The adjusted report was instituted three years ago as an addition to the University’s annual faculty salary comparison among Pitt’s AAU public peers.

The annual salary comparison uses data from the Association of American University Professors (AAUP) annual economic status of the profession report. (See Oct. 23 University Times.)

Pittsburgh campus associate professors rose from No. 19 in the unadjusted ranking to No. 8 in the COL-adjusted ranking; assistant professors rose from No. 27 to No. 11; lecturers and instructors rose from No. 31 to No. 26, and librarians moved up from No. 9 to No. 2 in the COL-adjusted ranking.


Regional faculty salaries

A different methodology was used in determining the COL-adjusted salaries for Pitt’s Bradford, Greensburg and Johnstown regional campus faculty compared to a sample of their peers at Carnegie Foundation Category IIB institutions in the three AAUP regions that border Pennsylvania.

Faculty pay at Pitt-Titusville, a Carnegie Category III institution, was not included in the report.

COL data for the regional peers came from Sperling’s BestPlaces, which provides COL estimates for rural and suburban areas. The report used Bradford’s COL as a baseline for comparison.

Four sets of 21 comparison schools — one set for each faculty rank — were selected by ranking the institutions’ average salary from lowest to highest, then selecting the lowest school and those at every fifth percentile between 0 and 100. The resulting sample included 65 unique comparison schools, Brodish noted.

Pay for professors on Pitt’s regional campuses rose from No. 32 of 65 comparison schools to No. 14 in the adjusted ranking. Associate professors moved up from No. 26 to No. 8; assistant professors rose from No. 38 to No. 9. Lecturers and instructors rose from No. 20 among 48 peer schools to No. 3.

The full report can be viewed at

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 8