I write with reference to Katie Wilson’s April 21, 2017 article “AAUP Annual Faculty Compensation Report.” Faculty salaries are, as I’m sure the staff at The Hill News must be aware, a sensitive issue, and I thank the paper for its desire to shed some light on it. However, several matters need clarification before we can set ourselves to address inequities.
The article seems to confuse Full Professors, who have completed the tenure and promotion process over the course of at least 14 years, and full-time professors, a category that includes all faculty who are teaching three courses per semester for two semesters per year—whether they are here in temporary Visiting Assistant Professorships, permanent tenure-track Assistant Professorships, tenured Associate Professorships, or Full Professorships. Salaries differ widely among these ranks; however, only the tiniest handful of Full Professors (in fact, I only know of one) have attained the six-figure salaries that the article cites as the “average” for “full-time professors.” “We wish!” I can hear my colleagues sighing all across campus.
The article cautions that these figures were not “generated through the University, and thus may be prone to error.” I would like to suggest that the University should be asked to generate the information—the Human Resources Department would be the best place to begin—and that the resulting figures be set into precise context. For example, are the figures based on a nine-month or a twelve-month year? (As far as I know, faculty salaries at SLU are based on a nine-month year with payments spread across twelve months.) Do these figures include the value of benefits packages (travel support and start-up funds for research, tuition remission for dependents, contributions to retirement plans, contributions to life and health insurance plans, etc.) or are they salary only? What are the averages for the different ranks of the faculty (Adjunct, Visiting, Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor)?
There may or may not be a gender gap in faculty compensation at SLU, but we can’t begin to define or address it until we have accurate figures in a precise context.
Dr. Sarah Gates
Craig Professor of English
Chair, Department of English