Report sheds light on salary trends

Salaries for GW’s top administrators jumped an average of 54.7 percent from 2002 to 2007, while faculty salaries increased an average of 21.5 percent over roughly the same period, according to University salary data.

The data, presented in a 2009 Faculty Senate report, displays top administrators’ salaries, average faculty salaries and new undergraduate tuition rates between 2002 and 2007. The most recent salary information for all categories is from 2007.

The salary increases for the top administrators are about 40 percentage points higher than the national inflation rate for the same period, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2002 to 2007, inflation rates saw a 15.3 percent increase.

For the 2007-2008 academic year, full-time professors earned an average of $128,500, associate professors earned an average of $92,600, and assistant professors earned an average of $75,100. New undergraduate tuition that year cost $39,420.

The data report average faculty salaries and tuition levels by the academic year, while the payment for the top administrators is listed by calendar year.

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz said the reported salaries of faculty and top administrators are not comparable, because the administrator salaries in the report come from the University’s top administrators, while the faculty salaries take into account all faculty members – not just the highest paid.

“We don’t say what the top faculty make; you can find what the top administrators make,” he said, adding that top faculty, on a percentage basis, are getting similar increases to what senior administrators receive.

The University’s four vice presidents saw varying increases in their salaries over the time span, with Executive Vice President Donald Lehman seeing the largest increase – 52 percent. John Williams, the vice president of health affairs and University provost, had the highest salary of vice presidents in 2007, earning $772,500, according to the report.

University President Emeritus Steven Joel Trachtenberg saw an 81 percent increase in salary over the time period, according to the data. Trachtenberg only served for seven months in 2007 before retiring at the end of July, but the data report his payment as $1,025,875 for the full year, after annualizing the roughly $600,000 he received through July.

University President Steven Knapp made $298,179 for his first five months in office – August 2007 to December 2007 – which equates to an annual salary of $715,627.

Katz said GW’s salaries should not be compared to a national average, as the cost of living in D.C. is much higher than other parts of the country. He said GW’s salaries compare to those at similar, private, urban schools.

“We compare our salaries with peer group institutions and we are within the range,” Katz said. “We do the same thing for faculty too.”

Professor of anatomy and cell biology Kurt Johnson said he was not surprised by the data, and said the increase for faculty wages confirmed what he thinks about the cost of living in D.C.

“Our salary increases barely keep pace with cost-of-living increase,” he said. “But for someone my age, my costs are fixed so cost of living does not affect me as much as it does for wage workers.”

He added, “My annual pay raise is largely consumed by increases in University fees and insurance costs.”

Comparing faculty salaries to administrator salaries, Johnson said he understands why the top administrators are paid more – they are effectively “CEO[s] of major economic enterprises,” he said. “But faculty often believe that administrators are overpaid.”

Lauren French and Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

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