Salaries safe from cuts

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October 5, 2007

3:33 PM

__Salaries remain below those of peer institutions, but College catching up__

p. Despite the prospect of losing 6.25 percent of state funding, professor salaries will not be reduced, Vice President of Finance Sam Jones said in an interview. Future salary increases, including one scheduled for November, will also remain unaffected.

p. Jones said the College has been working to increase professor salaries to better compete with peer institutions, which are universities with similar student bodies and resources. Professors at the College receive salaries that are around the 37th percentile of their counterparts at peer institutions, according to the most recent study done by the Office of Institutional Research in April 2007. This is an increase from two years ago when The Flat Hat reported that College professors earned in the 20th percentile of peer institutions.

p. The state of Virginia requires public universities to aim for the 60th percentile among their peer group. “Our target is to get to [the 60th percentile] by 2010,” Jones said.

p. To achieve this, the Board of Visitors has approved average raises for faculty of 5 percent each year over the past two years. Since pay is based on merit, five percent was only an average, and many professors got more or less than that person.
Jones also said that the College’s peer group had recently been adjusted to account for changes in universities. Although an official evaluation is still in progress, he says that he expects the change to portray the College in a better light than before. “[The new percentile] will probably be in the mid- to high- 40’s.”

p. Salaries at the College rank above the national university average, and it is only when compared to peer institutions that the College falls short.

p. The Flat Hat has also obtained a detailed breakdown of all professor salaries at the College. The data indicates that professors in business and the sciences earn significantly more than those in most social sciences and artistic fields. For instance, while the average salary of law professors is over $150,000, the average salaries of music professors is just over a third of that, at $57,000.

p. “This is a long-standing situation in faculty salaries,” Associate Provost Lorne Kuffel said in an e-mail. “It is associated with market pressure. Fields that have higher salaries outside of the university tend to have the higher salaries within the university.

p. Market pressure often drives the salaries up for faculty in business, engineering and the physical sciences. Departments also differ widely in total expenditures. While the business department spends nearly $7 million on its 53 faculty members, the art department allocates under $1 million to its 16 professors.
Some departments have a very wide range of salaries, while in others, professors have relatively equal salaries. The physics department was the least similar, with three times more variance than the American studies department.

p. There are also some outliers in this data. One chemistry department professor who works year round receives a salary of $256,597. Department Chair Gary Rice explained that the professor had been with the College for a long time.

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