Faculty concerned about lower salaries

The AAUP report states teaching has become an insecure profession.
Megan Stroup / Graphic Designer

The AAUP released their annual report on faculty salaries Monday. The report, titled "On the Brink: The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession," warns faculty members they must take action to ensure cuts to higher education funding have minimal effects on educating students.

Faculty Council Chairman Tom Phillips said though he cannot speak to the American Association of University Professors, the Faculty Council speaks with MU administration to determine where and how to increase or decrease instructional spending.

"Faculty Council is in communication with President (Gary) Forsee, Chancellor Deaton and Provost Foster about the budget issues," Phillips said. "Faculty members serve on our several committees looking at how costs could be cut or revenue increased."

MU AAUP co-Vice President Stephen Montgomery-Smith said faculty members at MU are already working to ensure cutbacks have minimal effects on education.

"My sense from talking with faculty is that all of them would want the cutbacks to have minimal effect on education and that all of them are working to make sure this happens," Montgomery-Smith said.

The report also warns the true consequences of the economic recession have yet to be seen.

"On paper, aggregate faculty salaries for this year look pretty good, since inflation is suddenly at its lowest level in half a century," said Saranna Thornton, the lead author of the report. "But it won't be until we have next year's data that we can begin to assess the true consequences of the recession of 2008 on higher education."

Thornton, who is the AAUP's Committee on the Economic Status of the Profession chairwoman, said faculty members across the country got lucky and received a slight increase in salary this year because universities and colleges didn't foresee a dip in inflation rates.

"Universities and colleges were accounting for the inflation trend to continue to seven percent through this year, when it actually sank to just 0.1 percent," Thornton said. "So faculty is fortunate inflation rates decreased and allowed for a slight salary increase, but this won't hold."

Thornton said faculty should stand up for their interests, but does not want it to seem as if they're trying to take more money from students' pockets.

"I don't want people to think faculty members are trying to bilk students out of their money because we're obviously not in this profession for the money," Thornton said. "If we wanted to get rich we wouldn't be in education, we'd be working somewhere other than in universities and colleges."

The report also shows a growing trend in the number of faculty members hired on a part-time bias.

"Probably the most salient feature of the higher education landscape in the last three decades has been the increasing insecurity of faculty employment," stated an AAUP news release regarding the report. "More than half of all faculty members are now hired on a part-time basis, one course at a time, most often with no job security and no benefits."

The report studied the disparity between male and female faculty members at the level of professor.

"There are four male professors for every female professor on average across the country, despite the fact that women earn roughly 50 percent of Ph.Ds," Thornton said.

The report on faculty salaries and the economic status of college professors can be found on AAUP's Web site.

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