30 March 2010

UC faculty salaries

A couple of interesting data points coming out of UCOP shed some light on where UC faculty salaries stand with respect to the "Comparison Eight" institutions. The Comparison Eight are four private and four public institutions that are used by UC to compare faculty salary scales and student fees. The four public universities are Illinois, Michicgan, Virginia and SUNY Buffalo; the four privates are Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Yale.

So, how does UC compare with peer institutions? The first slide shows that the last time UC salaries (general campus averages, not professional or medical schools) were in line with the the Comparison Eight average was in 1999-2000. That's when the peak of the dot-com boom occurred, Al Gore was running for president and Lieberman was still a democrat:

By 2009-2010 the average of the four private peers was out of sight, and UC was only slightly above the average of the four public peers, in spite of most of the faculty living in some of the most expensive real estate markets in the country.

As is well known, in 2006-07, the university implemented a plan to bring UC salaries back to market level by, well, next year. The first part of the 4-year plan was implemented in  2006-07, by we know what happened next:

UC salaries are now less than 90% than the market level, with no talk of resuming the 2006 plan.


  1. Although you label yourselves as seekers of knowledge, you and your ilk jump into the simplistic world of relativism. Perhaps you are capable of computing total compensation, guaranteed pensions,free time, and the like, then comparing those figures to what any other similarly educated person would earn. Maybe a little bit of cost to value analysis for your positions would be part of a salary analysis ?

    Why are you not concerned with the apparent self serving agendas of universities, which runs in opposition to the mission of education and scholarship? Of course any institution should be strong, but look at the sports 'scholarships', outrageous management salaries and perks.

    Prepare to go back to the basics. All of America will soon join you, as the veneer of borrowed wealth melts away.

  2. My policy is to post all comments, whether I agree with them or not (and as long as they are not offensive or abusive). Having said that, I do not quite understand what the anonymous commenter above is trying to say. And I reject the implication that I and others are "not concerned with the apparent self serving agendas of universities." That's precisely what we are concerned about.

  3. I posted my comment because your blog, although clearly written by an intelligent person, seems to be more focused on your entitlement. If indeed this is your focus, I would suggest another tactic to "win friends and influence people"

    1. You may be overpaid. I don't know, but this blog entry seems only to discus that you make less than other faculty. Hardly a reasoned analysis or a call to action by the public.

    2. The country, the state, everybody is broke. Why?
    In general overconsumption with undertaxation of most, except (you and I - the middle class), and in specific proposition 13. Fight the problem.

    3. Universities trying to be all things to all people. Yes, you do make points about sports stadiums being a bad investment. Perhaps we can even move to the conclusion that competitive sports should not a main focus of an academic institution ?

    4. Stop whining about your own position. You may be intelligent, and this is very valuable when used in the interests of humanity. Please make a case that university faculty deserve more compensation, presumably in return for value to society.

    5. Out of curiousity, and without giving away your anonymity, could you reveal what area your academic expertise is in ?

  4. Hello, Anonymous. Now I think I see more clearly what you wanted to say, so let me try to address your points.

    1. Like most UC faculty, I am not overpaid (administrators are a different story, though). UC faculty salaries have historically lagged behind salaries at comparable institutions, both public and private. UC managed to maintain faculty quality by offering three things that are hard to find elsewhere: a tradition of shared governance between faculty and administration, a superb retirement system, and year-round sunshine. I am not making a point about entitlement: it's a free market out there, and if UC is not competitive it will lose faculty to other institutions, and the best ones will be first to leave.

    2. Everybody is broke because the combination you indicate, over-consumption and under-taxation, which is barely sustainable as long as we were able to live on artificial wealth engineered by Wall Street, is just disastrous when the Ponzi schemes come crashing down. In CA, specifically, Prop. 13 turned out to be a disaster. Elderly people risking losing their homes to increasing property taxes (which were a real problem) were hijacked by big business as an excuse to exempt ALL real estate, including commercial real estate, from property taxes. The solution has to be a split roll.

    3. I completely agree. Big sports are NOT part of the mission of the University of California (or any other public institution -- the privates can do as they please). Universities spend a lot of money on projects that are not immediately connected with the teaching of undergraduates, because of their public value (research, public service, graduate education, etc.) Big sports are not part of it (I am talking to you, UCLA and UCB).

    4. I like to think that most of my posts address the extent to which the privatization of UC has undermined its public mission. Look, if I were only concerned with my salary, don't you think I would be advocating the private/public hybrid that is being pushed by central admin? I could certainly earn much more money elsewhere. It's precisely because I am aware of the central role of UC and CSU for the well-being of the State that I am so riled by what is going on in Oakland and Sacramento. And yes, when things get tight at the end of the month, I wish our salaries were more in line with those at other universities.

    5. My department is traditionally part of the humanities, but my area lies more at the intersection with the mathematical and formal sciences.

  5. Thanks for the response.

    We are all in for a great ride as we reassign the limited wealth remaining.

    Sounds like you might be an economist. If so, don't forget that the system of economics has some parallels with non-euclidian geometry.
    It's a wonderful, coherent set of theorems, with the mild problem that it does not represent reality.

    I feel for your particular set of economics. I instead found a slightly shinier set of golden handcuffs, mostly because my father (a prof), said "do not do this job". BTW, the "grass is greener" and all those aphorisms... they are true.