GW faculty salary lags behind average

GW’s full-time faculty members earn less on average than most of its market basket schools, including New York and Boston universities, according to a report released Friday by the American Association of University Professors.

The report, published in the Friday edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, lists GW’s average salary for a full professor as $103,300, about $9,000 less than the average for private universities.

The report also said GW associate professors earn an average of $74,200, about $1,000 more than the national average, and assistant professors earn an average of $58,400, about $6,000 less than the national average.

GW ranks 10th out of 14 market basket schools – private schools GW typically compares itself to – in terms of average full-time faculty pay, said Donald Lehman, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs.

Lehman said GW is continually working to increase faculty salaries and said the averages can be deceiving because they do not take the subtleties of faculty pay into account.

He said GW focuses its faculty salary increases on the AAUP’s established standards for pay, instead of using calculated averages that do not take geography and other factors into account.

Lehman said GW looks to increase salary by school and cited the inclusion of law school professor salary as an example of how the overall average can be distorted. He said law professors are paid more than undergraduate professors, and because Georgetown University has about 50 more law faculty than GW, the overall average can be misleading.

He said GW looks to keep all professors’ salaries above the AAUP 80th percentile standards, and to keep the average salary of every school above the 60th percentile.

“We are working slowly but surely to increase pay, school by school…not targeting our increases relative to the market basket,” Lehman said.

While GW full and associate professors fall into the 80th percentile, assistant professor salaries fall short of that goal by $2,000.

Lehman said the only two GW schools which miss the 60th percentile goal are the Graduate School of Education and Human Development and the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.

Lehman said there are “certainly” efforts being made to help the schools meet the goal.

“We have made significant progress over the last five to eight years,” he said. “We pay attention (to the market basket numbers), but it’s not a goal.”

Peggy Cohen, assistant vice president of institutional research at GW, said about 40 percent of GW’s faculty are full professors, 30 percent are associate professors and 28 percent assistant professors.

Emmet Kennedy, chairman of the Appointment, Salary,and Promotions Policies Committee of the Faculty Senate and head of the History Department said bringing GW’s faculty salaries up to par with other schools is not a new concern.

“The administration has been trying to improve faculty salaries for some time,” he said.

Paul Duff, associate professor of religion and also a member of the ASPP committee of the Faculty Senate agreed, saying “salaries are always a consistent complaint.”

Kennedy added that GW’s part-time faculty is “poorly paid,” and its salaries “still have a long way to go to be respectable.”

Lehman said the administration and Faculty Senate are addressing salary increases in a committee.

He added that the issue is difficult to look at from a macro perspective, because pay differs by discipline.

Duff said administrative salaries are “far higher than the top faculty salaries, excluding the medical school.”

“We don’t seem to have too much trouble paying the administration,” he quipped.

Kennedy said the administrative salary increase in 1999 was “about 10.5 to 12.8 percent” on average. He had no figure available for any year after 1999, but said “the rate of increase for faculty shouldn’t be below the administrative rate.”

Lehman said the average salary raise for faculty has stood at 4 percent for the last five years, and said the University looks to maintain the rate, which equals the average increase for private universities listed in the report.

“Trachtenberg’s raise is much larger than ours,” said Joseph Pelzman, professor of economics.

Trachtenberg was listed among the top 10 in University president salaries in 2000.

Although professors said they thought that in general the faculty is not always pleased with its pay, many said professors are drawn to stay at GW for other reasons.

“We don’t have too much trouble attracting people,” Kennedy said. “Professors come to Washington for its location and resources, such as the Library of Congress.”

He added that there isn’t much “exodus” from GW.

Lehman agreed, noting that the pay difference does not hamper recruiting efforts because faculty are attracted to GW for numerous reasons in addition to pay.

He said they could be attracted to the student body, location, faculty, sub-fields, research opportunities or specific majors.

“Certainly salary is not the whole picture,” Lehman said.

Duff said he came to GW for reasons other than salary, but said if “another university” offers him a salary “20 percent higher” than what GW offers him, “it’s obvious where I’m going to go.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.