Archive for Sunday, April 15, 2012

Heard on the Hill: Data reveal what an average professor earns at KU; former provost Richard Lariviere to head Chicago’s Field Museum; incoming freshmen to read ‘Notes from No Man’s Land’

April 15, 2012


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• It’s always interesting to get the annual faculty salary data from the Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s available online here.

I get asked from time to time what professors make, and it varies, obviously, from discipline to discipline and the professor’s research track record.

But this annual survey from the AAUP does about as good a job as anything in summing up where an institution is at.

For example, a full professor at KU earns, on average, $116,100 per year. An associate professor (in other words, a professor who has already earned tenure) earns on average, $78,800. And assistant professors (people who are typically on a tenure track) earn on average $69,200.

All of those are below the median for doctoral institutions (with associate professors, in the 30th percentile, being the lowest of the ranks).

There’s one other interesting bit of data I noticed, however. Even with the abrupt slowdown in faculty salaries since 2008, the average full professor’s salary has increased by $41,900 since 2000. That’s slightly higher than the national average of a $36,400 increase over that same time period.

• Here’s another update on former KU Provost Richard Lariviere. You may remember that the provost who rankled a few folks around here with his “sharp elbows” left to become president of the University of Oregon.

There, he was ousted last November after clashing with that university’s governing board on a number of issues.

Now, it looks like he’s headed to Chicago to become director of the Field Museum there, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The hire is expected to become official on Tuesday and he is scheduled to begin in the new post in August.

• KU has named the book it intends to use for its first Common Book program, in which all freshmen will receive the book at orientation and be encouraged to read it.

The book will be “Notes from No Man’s Land,” a collection of essays by writer Eula Biss.

A committee recommended the book after considering more than 125 books recommended by members of the KU community.

Biss will visit the campus in October as part of the programming surrounding the book.

The first-year students will be encouraged (but not outright required, as I understand it) to read the book before coming to campus, and several events will be scheduled around the program.

These kinds of things are popping up all over the country, it seems. Kansas State has a similar program, and this fall they’ll be reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” about a poor black farmer whose cells were taken and used in all kinds of scientific research. The hope from KU’s perspective is that the program will help plug students into school so they are less likely to drop out.

• I’m still working on getting Heard on the Hill into the curriculum as required reading in all university classes (no luck so far), but if you keep sending me those awesome tips, to, we’ll be set in no time.


chootspa 5 years, 11 months ago

Hello to Dave Trabert of ALEC and the Koch-sponsored "think" tank KPI, who owns the link he just spammed. It's his sincerest hope that you visit and find individuals out of context to protest in a "how dare they!" manner. He's provided a separate listing of just employees earning more than $100,000 for your ranting convenience.

kufan1146 5 years, 11 months ago

I wonder if there is a way to take into consideration cost of living? Sure, the professors here in Lawrence might make a bit less than at other institutions, but the cost of living in Lawrence is very low. Would be interesting to see those figures. I know I'd have no problem 'surviving' on even 69k a year here!

WilburM 5 years, 11 months ago

Do KU salaries include Med School faculty? That would skew them upward.

CLAS $$ is clearly far lower than professional schools, too. So aggregate stats don't have a lot of meaning.

ahyland 5 years, 11 months ago


I went to the AAUP's website, and in one of their reports, they indicated that this salary data was for "U Kansas - Main," which I assume excludes data from KU Medical Center.

I am checking with them, however, to be sure.

Brian Laird 5 years, 11 months ago

Also, the data in these lists are total salary, which includes both the 9 month salary from the state and any summer salary from grants. Given that the state portion of salary hasn't changed by that much since 2000, the larger increase in full professor salary is probably due mostly to increases in the ability of KU professors to attract external funding relative to other universities, which is a good thing.


KU_cynic 5 years, 11 months ago

But with rare exceptions, most professors in the professional schools and in the humanities are not supported by grants.

Brian Laird 5 years, 11 months ago

I would agree with you somewhat on your humanities point, however, the largest professional schools (Engineering, Education and Pharmacy) have most of the faculty doing research that is largely funded from external agencies.

A rise of $41,900 in average full professor salaries to $116,100 since 2000 would represent a 4% per year increase. We have had a couple of years in that range since 2000, but not many. That is why I think that other factors have to be included other than the legislature approved raises and, to me, the biggest one would probably be external grant activity.

LJD230 5 years, 11 months ago

As grandma used to say, "you get what you pay for."

And they consider UNC a "peer" university?

And they consider Indiana a "peer university"?

If you want to improve the national rankings, and don't tell me they don't matter, you gotta pay the bucks to recruit and retain faculty. It ain't rocket science.

And If you had a choice of living in Chapel Hill or Lawrence, where would you choose?

KU_cynic 5 years, 11 months ago

Lariviere will fit right in amongst the other other mummified pharaohs at the Field Museum.

gccs14r 5 years, 11 months ago

I think median salary for each category would be a more telling figure. One person pulling down half a million a year really skews the average for a dozen folks earning $45k. In this specific example, the average is $80k.

kochmoney 5 years, 11 months ago

Surely KU has some sort of formula for determining base salary. That would be interesting to see.

Brian Laird 5 years, 11 months ago

There is no formula. Incoming salaries are set by the national market - that is, what is the salary that you need to offer to be competitive for top faculty candidates relative to other universities. After that raises are given from the merit pool that is approved by the legislature (usually). Individual raises are determined by the administration of each department (and School/College) on the basis of merit. There is no raise that is based on cost of living increase.

Given that the market values for new faculty often grow faster than the local raises, one often ends up with "salary compression" in which the salaries of new assistant professors can be higher than those of people who have been on the faculty for several years. Often the Deans have to give special raises (still from the same merit pool) to people in order to keep them from being raided.

irvan moore 5 years, 11 months ago

beat me to it, i was wondering what the above average and below average professors were paid, the salaries for average professors seems high

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