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July 24, 1997

Faculty salary study shows slight gains, losses at Pitt

Average salaries of associate and assistant professors at the Pittsburgh campus gained ground slightly since last year — while salaries of full professors and faculty librarians slipped a bit — compared with the median of salaries at other American Association of Universities (AAU) schools.

The AAU is a group of North American research universities that includes public institutions such as Pitt and the state systems of California and New York, as well as Ivy League schools and other private universities, including Carnegie Mellon.

Since the mid-1980s, the Pitt administration and University Senate groups have agreed that Pitt should strive to raise faculty salaries here to the AAU median for each faculty rank. Pitt has not yet achieved that goal, although average salaries for certain ranks here have met or exceeded the AAU medians over the years.

Pitt administrators point out that the University's faculty salaries compare well among public AAU schools.

According to a report released last week by Pitt's Office of Institutional Research, the average salary of a Pittsburgh campus full professor this year ($79,100) ranks 35th among 59 AAU institutions in the United States, down from 33rd place last year. The average salary of a Pittsburgh campus associate professor ($55,300) increased from 33rd to 32nd place.

For assistant professors (average salary: $44,700), the Pittsburgh campus ranks 46th, up from 51st place last year.

Harvard pays the highest average salary for full professors ($112,200) of any AAU institution, while the California Institute of Technology ranks No. 1 for average salaries of associate professors ($75,700) and assistant professors ($61,300). Salaries at the University of Oregon rank at the bottom of the AAU for all three ranks: an average of $60,300 for full professors, $45,200 for associate professors and $38,500 for assistant professors.

Average salaries of Pittsburgh campus librarians ($38,600) dropped from 49th to 51st place among the 55 AAU universities that belong to the Association of Research Libraries.

Among those 55 schools, Rutgers pays the highest average salary for librarians ($59,800), while Tulane pays the lowest ($36,000).

Among the 17 AAU branch campuses that focus exclusively or almost entirely on baccalaureate-level education (classified as AAU Category IIB institutions), Pitt's Bradford campus ranks eighth for salaries of full professors (Bradford average: $52,900), 10th for associate professors ($43,600) and 15th for assistant professors ($35,000). Last year, Bradford ranked 7th, 15th and 17th, respectively, in those categories.

The Greensburg campus ranks 7th for salaries of full professors (Greensburg average: $53,600), 12th for associate professors ($42,800) and 16th for assistant professors ($33,600). Greensburg ranked 6th, 15th and 17th, respectively, last year.

The Johnstown campus ranks 4th for salaries of full professors (Johnstown average: $56,900), 9th for associate professors ($44,700) and 17th for assistant professors ($32,100). Last year, Johnstown ranked 2nd, 10th and 16th, respectively.

Among other Category IIB campuses, average salaries for full professors range from $63,300 at Ohio State-Newark to $48,000 at the University of Texas-Brownsville. Five other campuses employ fewer than five full professors, and so did not report salary data for that rank.

For associate professors on Category IIB campuses, Ohio State-Lima pays the highest average salary ($48,800), while the University of Texas-Permian Basin has the lowest ($41,800).

Indiana University-Kokomo pays the highest average salary for assistant professors among the 17 Category IIB schools ($42,500). Pitt's Bradford, Greensburg and Johnstown campuses rank 15th, 16th and 17th, respectively.

Among the four AAU campuses that confer at least 75 percent of their degrees below the bachelor's level (Category III), the Titusville campus ranks last in average salaries for associate professors (Titusville average: $36,600) and assistant professors ($31,800). Both rankings are unchanged from last year. Because Titusville employs fewer than five full professors, salary information for that rank was not reported.

Penn State Category III campuses, which the AAU ranked together, pay the highest average salaries in that category for full professors ($59,100), associate professors ($47,900) and assistant professors ($40,700).

The Office of Institutional Research report is based on data published in the March/April issue of Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and in the 1996-97 Association of Research Libraries Salary Survey.

The AAUP limited its salary survey to 59 of the 62 AAU member institutions, eliminating two Canadian universities and the University of Rochester, for which salary data were unavailable.

In Pitt's report, Institutional Research staff cited what they called "a number of problems inherent in the use of salary data such as those used in this analysis," including the following:

The AAUP reported on faculty salaries for a nine-month academic year. "As a result," the study states, "average salaries of institutions with a large proportion of faculty on 12-month contracts can be seriously misrepresented. The ratio one uses to convert a 12-month salary to a nine-month equivalent may vary among institutions and one can debate the rationale for converting the salaries at all."

* Faculty members' ages and tenure status are not taken into account. Universities with proportionately more senior and tenured professors tend to pay higher average salaries.

* The data don't account for faculty discipline areas. Schools that emphasize technical and/or high-demand fields such as engineering and business tend to pay higher salaries than liberal arts schools.

"This point particularly brings into question the appropriateness of comparing public institutions to private institutions," the report states.

"While the public university has a responsibility to teach a broad spectrum of topics, thereby limiting the ability to specialize heavily, private institutions are not so bound.

In addition, private schools often lack the limits placed on public institutions in terms of compliance with state and federal governance rules and also reliance on public funds. As a result, the majority of AAU institutions ranked highly are private institutions." Limiting the comparisons to the 32 public AAU universities, Pitt would rank 14th in average salaries for full professors (down from 10th place among 30 public AAU schools last year), 10th for associate professors (the same place Pitt held among 30 schools last year) and 23rd for assistant professors (up from 26th place last year).

Among public AAU universities that belong to the Association of Research Libraries, Pitt would rank 30th out of 32 institutions in librarians' average salaries. Last year, Pitt librarians' salaries ranked 28th out of 30 such institutions.

— Bruce Steele

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