Throughout the years, Faculty Senate President Elizabeth Bird has noticed a pattern developing among faculty salaries at USF. Bird said frequent salary increases given to newly-hired faculty has seen their earnings rise at a faster rate than long-serving professors.
But USF isn’t alone when it comes to salary compression, said USF President Judy Genshaft.
“It’s a problem throughout the country, no matter which university you go to, you’re going to find this compression,” Genshaft said.
Either way, faculty salaries at USF rank lower than similar state universities such as Florida, Florida State, Central Florida, Florida International and Florida Atlantic.
A faculty salary peer comparison analysis from 2002 recorded the average salary of USF professors at $77,300. The top three average salaries at Florida universities are UF at $89,270; UCF at $88,771 and FSU at $84,418, according to the analysis conducted by the USF provost’s office.
“People have known this for years, this is nothing new. I think the faculty certainly knows this,” Bird said. “We’re keeping up with the entry-level (salary) but professors’ salaries fall behind without pay raises.”
Genshaft, who called for the faculty salary peer analysis, said she has been concerned with faculty salaries since she became president in 2000.
“The first year, I raised the amount of money faculty received when they were going through their promotion and tenure reviews. The second year, I was able to secure $1.6 million from the Legislature and put 100 percent into faculty salaries,” Genshaft said.
That money was used for the Faculty Excellence Award, which awarded an 8 to 12 percent increase to 100 faculty members’ base salaries in 2001. The money for the award was administered through then-Provost S. David Stamps.
A faculty committee made the selection process for distributing the merit-based awards.
Bird agrees that faculty salary increases should be based on merit; in fact, she says an across-the-board increase doesn’t appropriately reward professors who do more research work, publish books or journals or those involved in committees. But Bird said the majority of USF’s faculty salaries still need an increase.
“There’s a thing some are referring to as a loyalty tax; the (professors who stay longer) are the ones who get penalized,” Bird said.
In a memo e-mailed to the USF community two weeks ago, Bird addressed faculty salaries and attached a resolution that the Faculty Senate developed.
The resolution asks for a “plan to begin addressing the issue of faculty compensation, to be acted upon by the end of this academic year.” It also states that the plan should “meet the 2002-07 Strategic Plan benchmark of raising the weighted mean salary by approximately one-third.”
The Faculty Senate’s resolution was distributed at a Board of Trustees meeting in late January and Bird said the board and Interim Provost Renu Khator were responsive to the concern.
Khator referred questions to Robert Chang, vice provost for faculty and program development, who said the administration is taking positive steps to improve faculty salaries.
“We’re exploring different ways to address salary issues … eventually we’ll have to sit down with (faculty) to negotiate, but merit has to be taken into account,” Chang said.
According to a memo Khator sent to faculty on Jan. 28 in response to the Faculty Senate resolution, “salary enhancement has now become the no-excuse priority for USF.”
It also stated that the faculty salary peer comparison “revealed that the situation was worse than anyone had anticipated.”
“I’ve already put together a workgroup of budget officers to come up with ideas for recurring money. When you’re (increasing) faculty salaries, it’s not one-time money that’s important, it’s recurring money,” Genshaft said.
But Genshaft said improving faculty salaries has always been a part of the Strategic Plan along with her goals as president.
But before Bird’s memo was released , Genshaft said she discussed with the Board of Trustees in November that salary increases are a priority.
“And we had all the data, continued to analyze the data, put the data out, so I had been supporting faculty salaries since I came here.”
Last year’s faculty salary increases were about 2 percent, with $900 for nine-month faculty and $1,400 for 12-month faculty.
“There’s no way those kind of raises can keep us up with inflation,” Bird said.
Bird added that faculty salaries hurt on the recruiting level, not so much with entry-level professors, but more so with professors at the associate and senior levels.
“We drain people out and there’s not a good amount coming in,” Bird said. “Full professors are seeing salaries stay flat.”
Chang said the administration understands that recruitment is important to the university’s future.
“Recruiting new faculty members is always a competitive process, and if we’re not able to provide a competitive salary it wouldn’t serve our faculty well if we didn’t bring in the top faculty,” Chang said.
USF faculty salaries compared with future peers in the Big East, once a conference switch is made in 2005, rank below all universities except West Virginia.
The University of Connecticut ranks the highest with an average $107,574.
To meet the cost of living in Hartford, a professor would need at least $8,000 more than the average USF salary of $77,300, according to Realtor.com.
USF history department chairman William Murray said, on average, his department loses a faculty member every two years to universities with much higher salaries. In the past faculty have transferred to the University of North Carolina, University of California at Los Angeles and University of Minnesota.
“Often, they (move) to a university that pays them more,” Murray said. “All of the people that I’ve mentioned are producing books, but by the time the book comes out, guess which university’s name is on that book? It’s not USF. Within in a period of three or four years a professor has been working hard teaching students, sitting on committees and sees that new people are getting five, six, seven thousand more. The salaries are higher than the ones we hired last year.”
But Genshaft said salary rates for new faculty has increased in comparison to inflation.
“When faculty come in their standard rate is higher than when it was when faculty came in 1990. We haven’t had the increases over the years for the existing faculty that would keep their salaries higher,” Genshaft said.
Still, Bird and Murray say it hurts USF because the university usually invests five years into professors and just before they’re ready for tenure they leave for higher pay. Bird said she trusts the administration will address the problem but wants the Faculty Senate to be involved in the decision-making process.
“We can’t just fix this overnight and we don’t expect it to be fixed by the state. This state doesn’t fund higher education properly. The Faculty Senate is going to keep attention on this issue that this is a priority,” Bird said.