Archive for Monday, January 3, 2011

Heard on the Hill: KU’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning provides insight into differential tuition, graduation and retention, peer faculty salaries

January 3, 2011


Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• One of the greatest tools any KU reporter could ever wish for is the website of KU’s Office of Institutional Research and Planning, so I figured I’d give it some love in this space.

OIRP director Deb Teeter and her folks do a good job of making available a wide variety of interesting information about KU, and are the source for facts and figures of all sorts. So here’s a Heard on the Hill post dedicated to the vast and varied information available through this great website.

• The OIRP site played a key role in the differential tuition dust-up last year, because the MBA students were able to use the site to find key documents needed to bolster their arguments.

They’d made a massive open-records request to KU, and were surprised to find that KU wanted more than $61,000 before filling the students’ wide-ranging request for information from the School of Business.

Not having $61,000 to give to KU, the students went to OIRP (among other places, too) to find key documents like the original proposal for spending KU’s differential tuition dollars. This document became the basis for many of the students’ complaints as they moved forward. Though an audit report cleared the business school of any major malfeasance, it did reveal some accounting issues at the school that needed to be shored up.

• Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little talks a lot about KU’s retention and graduation rates, but they don’t always get mentioned specifically. For that, we turn to OIRP, which shows data from the last 10 years.

KU’s freshman retention rates are, as of the most recent count, at about 77.7 percent after the first year, and have been in slight decline since about 2003. Since 1990, the rate has hovered between 75 and 82 percent.

As of the most recent figures available, KU graduates 32.3 percent of its students after four years and 60.6 percent after six years.

These rates are often tracked in national rankings and can affect a university’s reputation among its peers.

Though this data I found is a little old (and it’s from the University of Florida, so they’re bolded), it’s easy to see that the retention and graduation rates are obviously a concern among fellow public Association of American Universities members, as KU consistently ranks near the bottom of its peers.

Provost Jeff Vitter has made mention of KU’s low rankings in several areas among its peers among the top-flight AAU research universities. It’s important to improve these rates, he has said, because KU doesn’t want to get asked to leave the elite group.

KU is looking for ways to improve these rates as part of its ongoing strategic planning process. I’ll be tracking their efforts over the long term to see how they do.

• Gray-Little and Provost Jeff Vitter have also been discussing faculty salaries, saying that if KU is prevented from raising faculty salaries, it risks losing top-flight researchers to other fields. According to an OIRP report, KU is right in the middle of its Big 12 Conference peers when it comes to salaries.

This report doesn’t have figures for this 2011 fiscal year that will end June 30, but it does show KU declining after the 2010 fiscal year, which was the first year to feature a salary freeze for faculty and staff. That freeze continued into this fiscal year, and KU leaders have expressed a desire to end it next year.

• Any other diamonds hidden in the OIRP rough? Fill me on that or any other tip for Heard on the Hill by e-mailing me at


Shardwurm 7 years, 4 months ago

"Gray-Little and Provost Jeff Vitter have also been discussing faculty salaries, saying that if KU is prevented from raising faculty salaries, it risks losing top-flight researchers to other fields."

Ok. Safe travels! Enjoy 'researching' somewhere else...or better yet, try getting a job in the private sector where you have to produce results.

question4u 7 years, 4 months ago

All faculty salary increases at state universities in Kansas are merit based (no cost of living increases). Salary increases provide a way to distinguish between faculty who are high performers and those who are not. Do you really believe that state universities in Kansas would be improved by removing competition between faculty and taking away incentives to excel? Is that the model that you would advocate for businesses? Do you believe that top researchers in the School of Engineering, the Medical Center or the Center for Bioinformatics at KU can't get jobs in the private sector but that Kansas would be better off if they did?

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 4 months ago

Shardwurm, where did you get your college degree?

onceinawhile 7 years, 4 months ago

Andy, Do you know where to find the most reliable search of state employees and their salaries? The most recent one I know of is on the Wichita Eagle’s website ( but the salaries look like they’re from 2007.

ahyland 7 years, 4 months ago

My old employer, The Kansas City Star, maintains such a database, and it looks like they have salaries from 2009 available.

Katherine Greene 7 years, 4 months ago

Another good place for Kansas government expenditures, including salaries, is KanView at

volunteer 7 years, 4 months ago

Do the professors generally supplement their income by getting fees for speaking engagements? In the early nineties I met a KU asst professor (sociology) who said his salary was 35 grand, but his total income was a hundred grand because he got invited to speak about his research at various other academic arenas and was well-compensated for presenting those papers or giving those speeches or whatever the term is.

Just wondering how reflective of reality those listed salaries are.

question4u 7 years, 4 months ago

The cvs of many of the faculty in the Sociology Department at KU are available on the department's website. It is easy to check how many possible speaking fees these faculty members could collect annually. The average number of presentations seems to be about three a year. Presenters at academic conferences in most disciples receive honoraria of only a few hundred dollars and a waiver of conference registration fees. Presenters at other universities receive honoraria from those departments' operating budgets or student government associations. You can look up the operating budgets for departments at KU, and see what resources they have available to pay for speakers. Speakers in most academic departments in the humanities at universities in Kansas receive honoraria of $300 to $500.

If a professor of Sociology at KU in the early 1990s was making $65,000 a year from speaker's fees and was able to give 24 presentations a year (about 8 times the average of current Sociology professors at KU), he would have been receiving an average of $2708 per presentation (or 6 to 9 times today's typical honorarium in academia). He also would have been off campus every two weeks over the course of the year, missing half of every semester. Who was this incredible professor?

worsenewsgirl 7 years, 4 months ago

Faculty presenting papers at academic conferences in Sociology DO NOT typically receive payment for that, nor are registration fees waived; perhaps in other fields. In Sociology, check out the cost to attend the annual disciplinary conference at the American Sociological Association website; presenters typically have to be members of a given association and must pay membership fees on top of conference registration fees, as well as lodging expenses. If invited to give a talk they may have their travel paid for, and a very small honorarium in the range of 200-300 dollars paid (from which they may have to cover some of their travel fees). I bet if you call up any of the faculty in the Sociology department you will find very few if any have ever been paid to speak anywhere.

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