Archive for Saturday, October 7, 2017

Faculty group says morale among KU professors at all-time low; low pay, ‘bloated’ administration, concealed carry among factors

University of Kansas professor of aerospace engineering Ron Barrett Gonzalez leads a meeting of the American Association of University Professors at the Kansas Union on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. Barrett, who serves as president of the KU Chapter of AAUP, addressed topics of concern among some faculty members.

University of Kansas professor of aerospace engineering Ron Barrett Gonzalez leads a meeting of the American Association of University Professors at the Kansas Union on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. Barrett, who serves as president of the KU Chapter of AAUP, addressed topics of concern among some faculty members.

October 7, 2017


Low pay, an increasingly “bloated” administrative staff and the arrival of on-campus concealed carry are just a few of the factors that have led some University of Kansas professors to speak out against what they describe as an unprecedented drop in faculty morale.

“We’ve had a lot of troubles across the university,” KU professor Ron Barrett-Gonzalez said Friday during a meeting of the KU chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

“Low pay is a big thing. We’re seeing a lot of administrative bloat, which is very troubling,” he said. “Because, as our pay is getting cut, cut, cut, they’re spending more on the (football) stadium and more on themselves in the administration, and weakening the strength of the entire faculty at the same time.”

Barrett-Gonzalez, a professor of aerospace engineering and president of his AAUP chapter, said he spent the last summer collecting national AAUP data that was presented Friday.

Among the findings: Since 2009, the average total salary for KU faculty has dropped by 9 percent, with the cumulative reduction in average KU faculty salary base (per faculty member) averaging about $77,000 since that same year.

The pay cuts are collectively “threatening” KU’s membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities, Barrett-Gonzalez said. The group represents the 62 leading research universities across the U.S. and Canada.

“Faculty members are antagonized by the guns on campus, and we’re also getting paid a lot less,” Barrett-Gonzalez said. “When you look around in our field and you look at the same level of scholarship that we’re working at, then you say, ‘Well, they’re paying more money than KU is. We’ve got guns here; they have no guns there. And I can make more money. Why am I here?’”

KU has teetered dangerously close to losing its AAU membership in recent years, Barrett-Gonzalez said. He doesn’t want his university to go the way of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, which was ousted from the AAU six years ago because of lagging scholarship levels.

“If we fall out of the AAU, it’s not simply that we lose a mark of scholarship," Barrett-Gonzalez said. “It means the level of scholarship going on at KU is being compromised. And so, maintaining AAU membership is very, very important.”

AAU status also adds thousands of dollars to the earning potential of KU graduates, he said. KU is the sole AAU institution in the state, and its graduates boast an estimated midcareer annual wage more than $15,000 higher than the average salary of non-AAU Kansas public university graduates.

Barrett-Gonzalez called that discrepancy “remarkable” and not one to be ignored.

“This is the argument for why you’d want to go to KU and not to K-State, Fort Hays, Pitt State, Emporia,” he said. “This is it. This is why: You will make more money if you go to KU.”

But, as Barrett-Gonzalez pointed out Friday, that’s not necessarily the case if you choose to teach at KU.

While KU’s average faculty pay has decreased by nearly $7,000 since 2009, the average pay of KU’s top 20 administrators has increased by more than $35,000 in the same span, according to data from the American Association of University Professors’ Academe journal and state payroll records.

“And it’s not by chance,” argues Jonathan Clark, a Hall distinguished professor of British history at KU. “This is a deliberate decision by the central administration to divert funds away from faculty and to other offices.”

Clark and his wife, Katherine Clark, an associate professor of history, are among the several members of KU’s AAUP chapter who have decided to leave the university because of the issues discussed at Friday’s meeting, Barrett-Gonzalez said.

Low faculty pay, anxiety generated by on-campus concealed carry and KU Athletics’ recently launched fundraising campaign to support a $300 million facelift to the low-performing football program’s Memorial Stadium, Clark said, all “weighed” heavily on him and his wife.

KU Athletics is relying solely on donations to fund the upgrades, which include an additional $50 million earmarked for construction of a new volleyball arena and improvements to the baseball program’s Hoglund Ballpark.

Clark feels KU is an outlier among its AAU peers in what he describes as an unhealthy prioritization of athletics over academics. Clark, who hails from the United Kingdom, attended Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Barrett-Gonzalez agrees with the assessment.

“The academic side is crumbling, and while it’s neat to get a new stadium, it looks OK to me,” he said of the historic Memorial Stadium, built in 1921 as a memorial to KU students who died serving in World War I.

“That,” Barrett-Gonzalez said, referring to concerns over KU potentially losing its AAU membership, “is going to adversely impact the earning power of our alumni.”

“That,” he said, pointing out the window to Memorial Stadium, “has no impact on the earning power of our alumni. And that’s a big deal.”

University officials did not respond to the Journal-World’s requests for comment on this story.


Bob Forer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

KU has not had decent leadership since Budig. Obviously the jury is still out on the new guy.

Ray Mizumura 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I usually find your comments right on the money, Bob, but I wouldn't make that kind of sweeping statement about KU's leadership. Of course the jury's still out on Douglas Girod (I sure hope it is; the man's only been at the helm since July).

Bob Forer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Is that all you have. Cant you come up with something new. you have been playing that same meme for months and months, and your serial repeating of it merely acts to betray you as a fool.

Bob Summers 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Is that all I have? You deny science? What do you have against science? People under the influence of DRD4 gene polymorphism are emotionally high strung like these government employees are.

Science is science deal with it.

Bob Forer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Come now. Do you really think you're being clever?

Richard Neuschafer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

In your case it's being a congenital idiot. This goes beyond being a conservative, liberal, moderate, or anywhere else in the political spectrum.

Ray Mizumura 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't think Bob was born that way, Richard. He makes an independent, self-determined choice as a free agent to be stupid. Let's just hope he doesn't drag anyone else down with him.

Ray Mizumura 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Your finest hour: Sharing a Jacuzzi with Steve Bannon.

Bob Summers 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Steve Bannon? Is that Race Bannon's brother?

Richard Heckler 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Cutting education budgets has been substantiating one large truth for a few years. Cutting education budgets is a failing right wing policy. Why put reckless conservatives into office?

99% of republican voters have been getting duped by extreme conservatives they have been voting into office. These extreme conservatives are not fiscal conservatives nor fiscal responsible.

They are narrowed minded conservatives who spend big to win elections .... elections that have been leaving 99% of republicans with fewer rights and less money in their bank accounts.

Like it or not we need to stop voting the republican ticket because ultra conservatives took over our party through unethical methods. Big reckless spending and monster lies.

Steve Jacob 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Question for everyone, If you apply for a job out of state, does it matter if your degree is from KU or KSU?

Bob Forer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

KSU has more Fullbright scholars than KU. It is hardly Silo Tech. Its pretty much par with KU. Two mediocre state institutions.

Our med school, however is well respected.

Neal Kingston 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Bob, I have nothing against KSU, but according to the Fulbright Website ( in 2016-17 KU had 4 Fulbright Scholars and KSU had one.

Bob Forer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I was referring to the total number of scholars a significant period of years.

Richard Neuschafer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

No. The out-of-state employers are only interested in whether a potential employee has the desired degree in that field. Whether it's from KU or KSU is irrelevant. But, there are enough differences in the fields of study between the two universities that it's uncommon for KU and KSU grads to be competing against each other for the same job. In terms of education they really are complementary to each other. Duplication of fields of study is not that common.

It does create a headache however for students wanting to transfer from one school to another. And that is for most colleges and universities in Kansas. Other schools may have a major that has the same name. But, the direction of study is different. Thus classes don't transfer from one college or university to another easily. And what the students are prepared for upon graduation is different.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Perhaps they should build a special place for these poor people to be able to forget their troubles and relax? Maybe next to the firearm cabinets. It made me so sad to read this.

Stacy Napier 5 months, 2 weeks ago

They have built a place for them. It's called the city of Lawrence

Eric Schmidt 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Mr. Gonzalez is actually complaining that our society is not more socialist in its approach to his position in life,ice, a teacher. Heater rides people for choosing to support the KU Athletic program more than his Pet Project. He goes on to denigrate those Americans who choose to exercise their rights in the Second Amendment. Someone remind this coddled group of people that they can vote with their feet and leave the state.

Bob Forer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Many of them are', believe me, which results in a mediocre faculty as the good ones leave. Perhaps you are comfortable with mediocre?

Bob Forer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

KU is hardly the quality University of its self-image. "Harvard on the Kaw?" Hah.

We used to recruit great folks. Now most of them don't come, and if they do, they see the writing on the wall and don't stay long.

There is a reason Gene Budig was not here very long. There is a reason Richard Norton Smith was gone in less than two years.

The last great faculty wave was in the late sixties/early seventies. The great ones simply are not interested. Can you blame them?

Harlan Hobbs 5 months, 2 weeks ago

This is what happens when you put the liberals in charge. KU and Lawrence are clearly the home for liberals in Kansas. Talk about isolation.

Richard Neuschafer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Blame the liberals for everything as usual, Harlan. It's the same old tired nonsense from you all of the time. You are seriously brainwashed beyond any return to reality. And this isn't about being liberal, conservative. moderate or anywhere else in the political spectrum. Stupid can't be fixed.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah, all those liberals in Topeka who cut funding over and over again. And all those gun loving liberals who want guns everywhere no matter what. Kansas is such a liberal run state, isn't it? /sarcasm/

R.J. Dickens 5 months, 2 weeks ago

And your degree in demographics is from...?

Ray Mizumura 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Interesting. Here's a top Professor in one of the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) speaking out. These are the fields that the Trump administration and most conservatives champion while denouncing and undermining the social sciences and humanities. Makes no difference to the usual trolling suspects on these boards. The STEM fields bring in the big research grants that make a positive difference and attract quality students and their money.

It's fine with me if the usual trolling suspects cut their own throats, but they might want to spare a thought for future generations and leave them out of their social engineering experiments in privatization and contempt for human beings with brains and the desire to use them.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The usual trolling suspects could care less about the future generations, because they will get old and die, and they don't have to worry about it. They are the culmination of the me generation and the replacement of Jesus Christianity with the worship of money, and the adoration of anyone with money, no matter how they got the money.

Sam Crow 5 months, 1 week ago

You really are resentful of people with more than you.

Richard Aronoff 5 months, 1 week ago

Dorothy has been blaming the world for the results of her own decisions for years.

P Allen Macfarlane 5 months, 1 week ago

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Higher education is a business first and a place where students become educated second. College sport is big business. Instead, they get scholarships for the academics they must attend. However, their main job is to play. Academics is not big business and the salaries paid to those employees on the this side of the university reflect that. The academic side of the university gets some of the largess from college sport, but clearly not as much as it should. When I was an undergrad in an engineering school back in the 60s , academics were way more important than college sports. I'm not so sure it''s that way anymore. Universities and colleges alike seem more interested in providing entertainment to the general populace than advancing understanding.

David Hann 5 months, 1 week ago

When I worked at KU in research administation we would have an All Hands Meeting, where the director proudly talked about how much money was being generated by research. I often asked why was not some of that money used to increase staff salaries and hire more tech support staff. Behind me, my colleagues quietly cheered me on, saying, "You tell them," but little concern was shown on the part of top administrators for the day-to-day workers, just as little concern has been shown for the academic side of KU. I believe KU began to slip as an academic institution when generating revenue from research replaced tts academic mission. The drive for money on the part of administrators, and indifference, if not hostility, on the part of state legislators threatens the liberal arts universities that have served this state and country well for decades. There is never money to increase faculty or staff salaries, but there is always money to hire another vice-chancellor for flack-catching.

Teri Chambers 5 months, 1 week ago

So very true. In my office we are asked to do more, offer more programs for students but with no increase staff to do the work. It would also be nice if the equipment we use (software,etc.) worked all the time. But to cut costs KU doesn't purchase quality products, thus making it harder to do one's job. I wonder how many Assoc. or Assist. Deans an office really needs, but by all means, lets get donors for a new football stadium.

Sam Crow 5 months, 1 week ago

Send out a mailing for donors for your department.

Stacy Napier 5 months, 1 week ago


You are State agency. It has always been this way. Sorry but computers and equipment never work at government agencies. It's called low bid.

I will agree with you about the whole athletics dept. It's a shame that all the donors and consumers put so much value in sports and their associated programs.

David Holroyd 5 months, 1 week ago

Shut down the KU campus and have only the Edwards Center and Wichita and online Courses.

Turn the KU Campus into affordable housing. After all there is nothing on the KU campus that pays property taxes so with those out of the equation..should be a reason to make it affordable.

Just imagine a football field to exercise in...the tenants have their own libraries and they can take turns checking books out to themselves and THE FIELD HOUSE would be rented to Bill Selt and the money from games goes to the tenants. There are kitchens and dining rooms in the dorms.

West campus turned into a community garden with a Farmer's Market run by the tenants. That only leaves the KS Union on private property and the Adams Center..those two entities could become blighted and redeveloped under the NRA and using IRBs...would become something different. after all they are old and ready and ripe for remodeling anyway.

Lawrence is so slow and so wanting to be something it can never be.

btw,,,didn't a Mr. Hecker say something last Spring about work being started on the Mausoleum ?He must have forgotten what he said.. We know the commissioners didn't follow up. Why? There were not VOTES to be had by the residents at the Retirement Community known as Oak Hill established in 1917. It is the oldest retirement community possible in the state of Kansas

Dane Hicks 5 months, 1 week ago

Meanwhile at the meeting to discuss parent and student morale, the main topic is a 500% increase in college tuition since 1985 but only a 150% increase in general consumer inflation....hmmmm.

Gary Stussie 5 months, 1 week ago

What is needed is a few more staffers!

Deputy Associate Chancellor of Facilities Climate to the Subcommittee for Donor Compliance

Deputy Associate Executive for the Office of Employee Services

Assistant Executive for the Committee on Alumni Outreach

Associate Assistant Provost for the Task Force on Investor Diversity

Deputy Vice President of Interdepartmental Climate of the Subcommittee for Academic Compliance

Deputy Provost for the Office of Learning Diversity

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