Universities, and faculty organizations like the American Association of University Professors and the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), have published variations of faculty salary surveys for some time now. I have been writing about faculty compensation and the underlying ideologies and management strategies (conscious and unconscious) for the presentation of "facts" (harvesting of data) and the extraction of inferences from the data (here, here, and here). I have also suggested how these exercises do as much to veil "data" and avoid "inference" as it aid in their development and exposure (for a more theoretical discussion HERE).
These are meant to serve a useful purpose--as an important contribution to informational transparency. This transparency, in turn is meant to paint a picture of the state of faculty earning that can be used, as an authoritative data set, to further positions and negotiating strategies, of university administrators, faculty, legislators and the like. It is also a valuable mechanism for managing public opinion about the state of the university and the privilege (or lack thereof) of a key university stakeholder.
All of this is well and good, and fair game, in the context of the politics of university administration, public policy development, and the operation of wage labor markets for university faculty labor talent. Yet, data is a relational as well as an objective measure. For policymakers, and especially for engagement, the choice of relational elements--the way data is packaged and the choice of data types to place in relationship to each other--will have a profound impact on the way on which the data is read and understood. More importantly, if done with some calculation, the careful presentation of relationships among data (including some excluding others) can be used to manage conclusions as well. This no doubt is usually inadvertent, but perhaps not always so. (HERE)
With that in mind it is worth considering the AAUP's recent release of its 2016-17 Faculty Compensation Survey. It provides data that supports what is becoming too obvious to ignore as the fundamental character of the academy changes: (1) part time employment continues to grow as the profession builds a segmented workforce with growing blue collar and seasonal segments; (2) cost cutting on the labor force side appears to have the inverse effect on administrative salaries that continue to grow (also here); and (3) the state has lost its taste for funding education. Still, the AAUP does try to put the best face of the data. But you can decide for yourself. In any case there is one great value to this data--the more obvious it becomes that faculty are reduced to a mere fungible labor force the stronger the case for unionization. The irony is, of course, that it will be the administration of the university, and its embrace of the new logic of university operation that more than anyone will be responsible for this movement.
The press Release with links follows.
March–April 2017 | Vol. 103, No. 2
The results of the AAUP’s 2016–17 Faculty Compensation Survey are now available in the March–April issue of Academe. You can download the digital edition at https://www.aaup.org/MA17-FCS (member login required).
If you have forgotten your password for the AAUP website, you can request an e-mail reminder here.
Among the wealth of data to be found in this year’s Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession are some familiar and unsettling stories.
Part-time employment continues to grow. Part-time appointments continue to make up the largest share of the faculty, constituting 40 percent of all positions. Full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty now make up less than 30 percent of the academic workforce, a decline that represents a continued and growing threat to academic freedom.
Administrative pay is high and on the rise. Presidents now earn nearly four times as much as full professors at private doctoral institutions and more than three-and-a-half times as much as those at public doctoral institutions.
Funding of public education remains below prerecession levels. While total state appropriations increased nationally by just over 4 percent between 2015 and 2016, that growth was overshadowed by the 16 percent decline in appropriations that occurred in years immediately following the recession, between 2009 and 2013.The stories that emerge from this year’s report highlight the persistent problems faced by our profession and the higher education system. Salaries for full-time ranked faculty are stagnant, rising by just 0.5 percent in real terms (after adjusting for inflation). Faculty members on part-time appointments lack benefits and survive on wages that place them at or near the poverty line. A gender pay gap persists in all faculty ranks. Public institutions continue to balance their budgets on the backs of an increasing number of out-of-state students who pay a markedly higher price.
The news isn’t all bad, though. Using these data effectively can bring real and positive change to higher education. AAUP members and all faculty can advocate for higher pay for part-time faculty members, increased state higher education appropriations, salary equity, and other improvements in higher education. Use the data to communicate with colleagues, students, friends, and policy makers about the issues facing the profession. Together, we can promote the economic security of all those who teach and research in higher education and help ensure that higher education serves the common good.