UI pay high for Big Ten, but low versus its peers

URBANA — The University of Illinois ranks third among Big Ten universities in salaries paid to full professors and assistant professors, a new national survey shows.

However, UI officials say the university doesn't fare as well among its peer group of top research universities, public or private.

The study, conducted by the American Association of University Professors and published this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education, includes average salaries at various faculty ranks among 1,251 doctoral institutions nationwide.

The AAUP said the data show that faculty salaries are not driving up the cost of college, with average pay showing little growth in the last year and dropping across the board once adjusted for inflation. The overall average salary of $82,556 represented a 1.2 percent decline in inflation-adjusted dollars.

The UI's Urbana campus ranks 63rd overall — and third in the Big Ten behind Northwestern and Michigan — for full professors, with an average salary of $137,200. It's also third in the conference for assistant professors (those who have not yet earned tenure), with an average salary of $83,600.

For associate professors (tenured faculty who have not been promoted to full professor) the average is $86,500, placing the UI ninth among the 12 Big Ten schools.

Salary competitiveness is an ongoing concern at the university, where an erosion of state funding has cut into the pool available for raises for more than a decade.

The UI went through rounds of internal cost-cutting to free up money for salaries in recent years, and it provides targeted raises to keep talented faculty. But no general raises were awarded in fiscal 2010 or 2011. Last summer, the university provided raises averaging 3 percent, which likely helped the UI in the latest survey, officials said.

Randall Kangas, associate vice president for planning and budgeting, said the overall average faculty salary at the university (all categories combined) ranks fourth in the Big Ten, behind Northwestern, Michigan and Penn State.

However, the UI pays more attention to a "peer group" of 21 top public research universities that it competes with for faculty, he said. The most recent data, from 2010-11, show the UI ranking 19th in that group.

Interim Provost Richard Wheeler noted that many of those schools — including UCLA, Texas, California-Berkeley and Michigan — rank ahead of the UI in the latest AAUP survey.

And of greater concern is competition with private schools, which haven't suffered as much financially because they don't rely on state appropriations, Kangas said.

"Twenty years ago, we were competitive with the top private schools. Now, that's not really so much true," Kangas said. "The rich private schools with big endowments can pick and choose in a way that they couldn't 20 years ago."

In the 1980s, Kangas said, Northwestern's average faculty salaries were about 4 percent higher than the UI's Urbana campus. Today, they're approximately 30 percent higher.

"The gap between the big privates and big publics has widened enough for the last several years that for comparative purposes we just look to our public counterparts," Wheeler said. "We'd like to do better."

The figures also don't reflect the situation within specific disciplines, which varies widely, Kangas said. Engineering ranks third among its 10 peers, for example, but agriculture is 10th out of 14.

Wheeler said the campus will examine areas where it needs to be more competitive, including the assistant professor level.

"It's pretty clear we're not at the top of the heap" among public universities, he said. "That needs to be addressed."

Somewhat surprisingly, the University of Wisconsin ranked last in the full professor category among Big Ten schools. Kangas said the rankings shift from year to year — if a school loses a large group of highly paid faculty to retirement, for example.

Also, some schools have business, engineering and law schools, which tend to have high-priced faculty because of competition from private industry, he said. Wisconsin has a medical school, but the survey did not include salaries for medical faculty.

Kangas said the UI has streamlined its budget request to the state into three broad categories — "people" (including salaries), facilities and unavoidable cost increases. It's asking the state for nearly $35 million to improve overall salaries next year, and another $20 million for recruitment and retention.

"Being competitive for top faculty and staff is absolutely No. 1," Kangas said.

How Big Ten schools rank


Here is a ranking of the salaries of full, associate and assistant professors at the universities that make up the Big Ten, ranked by the salaries of full professors:

RankSchoolFullAssociateAssistant12 Northwestern$172,100$110,200$98,90032 Michigan$148,800$98,200$85,80063 University of Illinois$137,200$86,500$83,60078 Ohio State$134,200$89,300$81,50082 Penn State$132,100$89,200$76,10094 Iowa$130,000$86,400$74,100103 Michigan State$128,600$89,200$69,500105 Indiana$128,400$87,000$77,400110 Minnesota$125,700$86,000$79,100116 Purdue$125,100$87,100$79,100190 Nebraska$114,800$77,600$71,600191 Wisconsin$114,700$87,400$75,900

Source: American Association of University Professors 2011-12 salary survey of institutions with doctoral (Ph.D.) programs. The data do not include medical school faculty salaries.

For the full survey: http://chronicle.com/article/faculty-salaries-table-2012/131433


News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

Unblinded Eye wrote on April 14, 2012 at 11:04 am

Did anyone else hear their parents constantly say while they were going up, "I'm not <so & so's> parent. I don't care what the other kids are doing. I care about what YOU are doing!"  I get so tired of hearing things about UIUC and their comparisons/rankings against other midwestern universities or other Big10 universities.  I don't really care how much the University of Michigan is paying theiri professors or how Illinois's academic standard rank against Northwestern or how Illinois' diversity compared to Wisconsin's.  I'm not at Michigan or Northwestern or Wisconsin or Harvard.  I care about the University of Illinois and knowing that the administration at THIS university is doing all in their power to make the U of I the best value and best education for the students that choose to attend this institution.

lecturer wrote on April 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

How can you know that what students get from the U of I is "the best value and best education" if you don't compare it with anything else?  How do you attract the faculty that can provide that "best value and best education" if you don't give them incentive to work here and not at comparable institutions?

The "I don't care what the other kids are doing" is a good reason not to let your kids follow the latest fads or take stupid risks, but it's not a good reason to, say, ignore the fact that your smart kids are coasting by with C's when the other kids are getting A's and B's.