It doesn't require a college degree to figure out Kansas University faculty salaries continue to fall behind wages paid professors at peer schools.
"The latest figures clearly support my case for enhanced faculty compensation. It is a matter of fairness," KU Chancellor Gene Budig said today.
According to the latest statistics, KU has the widest salary gap between a Kansas Board of Regents university and its group of peer universities.
In the previous budget year, the average wage of KU faculty was 88 percent of the amount paid at five universities comparable to KU. That percentage fell to 87.9 this year.
The average faculty salary at KU is $47,348, the highest compensation in the regents system.
However, the average wage at KU is $6,522 below the amount paid KU's peers. Last budget year, KU faculty got an average of $6,256 less than peers.
"My sense is that the salary levels at KU are terribly far below where they should be," said Mike Kautsch, dean of KU's School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
KU's peers are the universities of Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Oregon.
Among those universities, the highest average faculty salary is $57,042 at North Carolina. Oregon is the lowest at $44,308.
Budig made improvement of faculty salaries the university's highest budget priority.
For the budget year that begins July 1, the Legislature allocated enough money to provide regents university faculty an average salary raise of 2.25 percent.
Budig said the time has come for a bold initiative to improve faculty compensation. He proposed that regents adopt a multiyear program that would earmark funds from tuition increases for faculty raises.
"The plan would place us in the middle ranks of our peers within two years," Budig said. "It would quickly enhance our competitiveness."
The chancellor said the regents will vote later this month on the tuition proposal, which has been endorsed by the other regents university chief executives.
Passage of the initiative would help KU attract and retain gifted faculty members, Budig said. It would enhance faculty morale, he said.
"We have an urgent need to change the methods of funding faculty salaries. Our goal has to be to catch up with peers and return to the kind of plan we had during the Margin of Excellence years in the late 1980s," Kautsch said.
The Margin of Excellence was a three-year plan initiated by regents that was designed to raise faculty salaries close to peer levels. The plan was abandoned by the Legislature after two years.
"The faculty is right to be concerned about the lack of substantial progress," Kautsch said. "It must come sooner rather than later."