Faculty salaries up, but lag behind peers’

The University failed to narrow the pay gap between its average faculty salaries and those offered at similar institutions this year, according to new national data.

The average professor salary at GW rose by about 3 percent this academic year, amounting to about $152,000, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education analysis of survey results released by the American Association of University Professors April 9. Yet the mean salary among GW’s 14 peer institutions exceeded that figure by more than $5,000 – a similar gap to last academic year – with New York University’s average professor salary trumping GW by more than $30,000.

The increase matched the average bump at private doctoral institutions nationwide and last year’s rate of inflation.

The University aims to be in the top fifth of doctoral institutions nationwide, using data provided by the association as a benchmark. Since fall 2009, GW has exceeded that 80th percentile goal for full-time, associate and assistant professors. This year, full professors entered the 88th percentile, while associate professor pay was in the 86th and assistant was in the 80th.

“It’s fundamentally good news,” Provost Steven Lerman said at the Faculty Senate’s April 13 meeting, adding that the University continued to outpace its own goal.

Lerman said the University’s 3 percent increase was based on its budget, and was not actively set to match the rate of inflation.

Overall increases at both public and private doctoral institutions fell below inflation for the third consecutive year, according to the report, meaning that compensation failed to keep up with the increasing cost of living. The trend marks ongoing ripple effects from the economic downturn that caused many universities to implement hiring freezes.

Economics professor Anthony Yezer noted that GW’s salary ranking has risen as a result of hiring slowdowns elsewhere, saying in an e-mail, “I can attest from the Economics Department faculty searches this past spring that we are benefiting from the problems of the public sector.”

Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz has repeatedly said the University’s large cash reserves allowed it to weather the recession without financial or hiring pull-backs.

Following a strategy of merit increases, Lerman estimated that next year’s salary boost, which will be approved in May by the Board of Trustees as part of the University’s budget, would be “somewhere in [the 3 percent] vicinity.”

“We look at what we can do in the budget,” the provost said of determining faculty salary increases each year.

As the University’s academic reputation grows, it will compete for faculty with premier institutions that have larger budgets, Lerman said.

“We want to make it not just about salary to people,” he said, pointing to other benefits the University offers to complement salaries.

The University employed more than 4,100 full- and part-time professors in 2011, including those in the Medical Faculty Associates, internal data show. That figure has not varied drastically over the past decade.

Adjuncts’ salaries are determined by union negotiations, and they are not figures agreed on by the Board of Trustees.

Lerman said he does not expect to set a new salary benchmark, even though the University has exceeded the 80th percentile for several years in a row.

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