What Professor Pay Cuts Mean for College Students

via SmartMoney


by AnnaMaria Andriotis

“As tuition at many colleges and universities continued to balloon for the 2009-10 academic year, a new survey suggests faculty salaries remained largely unchanged.

Of course, adjusted for negative inflation, no change in a salary is equivalent to a modest raise. But many professors weren’t that lucky. Nearly a third of faculty members surveyed said their salaries had been reduced, with a median decrease of 3%, according to a survey of more than 215,000 professors released Monday by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), an industry group. Roughly 21% of faculty incumbents reported their salaries were unchanged from the previous year.

CSU says the cutbacks affected most of their staff. “Almost all of CSU’s 44,000 employees are subject to furloughs, which represent an approximate 10% reduction in compensation,” CSU spokesman Erik Fallis says. “There were no salary cuts otherwise, though the number of classes taught by an individual lecturer may change from term to term.” He added that the school had taken additional measures to cut costs over the last two years, including enrollment reductions, student fee increases, layoffs and fewer classes.

Still, academics say the cutbacks could ultimately shortchange students. “The furloughs mean students are getting fewer classroom days,” says Alice Sunshine, a spokeswoman for the California Faculty Association, a union of CSU professors. “It affects the quality of their education. Teachers have a curriculum that they’re supposed to be presenting, papers to grade, writing assignments to give instead of blue book multiple choice tests. Students are also getting less time outside of the classroom with their professors for advising and easier assignments that don’t take much time to grade.”

The cutbacks could also delay graduations, Taiz says. Students who need a couple classes to complete their degree programs are stuck if the professors who taught that coursework have been laid off, she says, adding that students “take whatever class they can get into just to remain a full-time student and hold onto their financial aid,” but that their coursework doesn’t bring them closer to their degrees.

Lower pay also means that universities are increasingly turning to part-time professors. In 2007, part-time professors made up 40.5% of college faculty, up from 22.3% in 1995, according to the AAUP. Meanwhile, full-time tenured professors made up 17.2% of the faculty, down from 24.8% over the same period. Also, graduate students filling in for professors are seeing a slight uptick. In 2007, they made up 19.5% of the faculty, up from 18.7% in 2005. Many of the part-time professors are employed on limited term contracts of one to three years, says Curtis. “We’ve already seen students impacted in a sense that there’s a lot of turnover in faculty, they’re not able to develop relationships with faculty members that go beyond what they get in a classroom,” says Curtis…”


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