This article is one of a three-part data-driven series in which The Michigan Daily obtained and analyzed annual university Salary Disclosure Reports from 2002-2020. Salary Disclosure Reports are released every year from the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Budget Planning and other departments. You can find the other articles in this series here and here.
For the purpose of data analysis, The Daily distinguished ‘faculty’ as tenured and tenure-track faculty, clinical faculty, research faculty, research scientists, and lecturers; and ‘staff’ as any employee of the university not considered faculty.
An analysis by The Michigan Daily uncovered that in 2020, the University of Michigan saw the highest differences in combined salary pay between the University’s three campuses — Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn — in the last 19 years. The combined salary of the 46,187 employees on the Ann Arbor campus was 48 times that of the 1,054 employees in Dearborn and 57 times that of the 1,002 employees in Flint. To that end, the combined salary on the Ann Arbor campus in 2020 was $3,949,007,002.45.
The median salary in Ann Arbor for all faculty and staff in 2020 was $70,219.20, while the median salary in Dearborn was $65,936 and the median salary in Flint was $56,806.40. The Daily found that for faculty specifically, the median Ann Arbor salary was more than two times greater than the median salary for Flint faculty members — U-M Flint faculty had a median salary of $63,386.46, U-M Dearborn faculty had a median salary of $77,822.24 and U-M Ann Arbor faculty had a median salary of $145,794.64.
In 2019, U-M Dearborn’s combined salary, or the cumulative total of its employees’ salaries, was $86,995,017.80, but it decreased to $81,070,304.21 in 2020. U-M Flint’s total salary was $75,659,264.83 in 2019 and decreased to $69,167,890.75 in 2020. This was supplemented by a decrease of 7.05% and 7.99% in employee count at Dearborn and Flint, respectively.
When looking at the median salaries of lecturers, disparities were also found between campuses and specific schools. Overall, the highest median salary for lecturers is at the Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, where the median is $146,276. This is compared with the lowest median salary for lecturers across the three campuses, which is $42,422.21 at the School of Nursing in Flint.
These disparities have caused some community members, like One University representative Amytess Girgis, LSA senior, to take issue with the distribution of funds between campuses.
“The University has told us that there simply is not enough money, that Dearborn and Flint need to be sustaining themselves on their own, and that the finances on the Ann Arbor campus shouldn’t be related,” Girgis said. “(But) we have one Board of Regents, we have one president, and the money is certainly there in the surplus funds from the University in the endowments and the returns on the endowments. There’s more than enough money to be paying lecturers.”
Dearborn and Flint recently saw a considerable amount of lecturer layoffs. From 2019 to 2020, Dearborn saw a net loss of 36 lecturers (12.9%), while Flint saw a net loss of 41 lecturers (12.4%).
Relative to Ann Arbor, the Dearborn and Flint campuses did not see as large a loss in revenue in 2020 due to COVID-19. Dearborn’s revenue decreased by 2.3% ($4,000,000) and Flint’s decreased by 6.3% ($10,600,000), while the Ann Arbor campus lost 8.5% ($800,000,000) in revenue.
However, the vice business chancellors of both satellite campuses recently told the Senate Assembly that these decreases in revenue are still painful, especially as Flint and Dearborn continue to struggle with declining enrollment.
Advocates for Lecturers’ Employees Organization’s bargaining platform have recently appeared before the Board of Regents to emphasize lecturers’ concerns of job insecurity. Despite its revenue losses, the Ann Arbor campus still added a net of five new lecturers from 2019 to 2020. Some lecturers at the satellite campuses, like LEO member and Dearborn lecturer Erik Marshall, have grown frustrated with austerity measures from the U-M administration.
Marshall said he feels as though the losses in revenue and the layoffs of lecturers are disproportionate.
“In the last year under COVID, (Flint and Dearborn) haven’t lost any revenue,” Marshall said. “But they’ve chosen to lay off a bunch of lecturers, which means that (lecturers) are seeing vastly increased class sizes, and they’re seeing classes canceled.”
While Flint revenues held steady, Dearborn lost 4.2% of its revenue over the last year.
Marshall added that laying off lecturers makes Dearborn and Flint students’ lives harder because the quality of education decreases as lecturers’ workloads increase, making it difficult for students to fulfill graduation requirements.
In 2020, the combined revenue of the Flint and Dearborn campuses made up only 3.59% of the total Ann Arbor campus revenue. Marshall expressed discontent with the fact that Ann Arbor’s $800,000,000 loss only amounted to an 8.5% decrease in revenue, prompting him to question the University’s diversion of funds between its three campuses.
“There’s absolutely no reason that the money in the central administration should not flow to Dearborn and Flint,” Marshall said. “The amount of money it would take to bring lecturers in Dearborn and Flint up to the same minimum salaries as Ann Arbor is nothing compared to the massive budget in Ann Arbor.”
Of the schools and colleges across the University’s three campuses, The Daily grouped the bottom 10 with the lowest median faculty salaries. Four out of the five schools at U-M Flint and two of the four schools at U-M Dearborn fall into this category. Specifically looking at lecturer salaries has similar results: three of the 10 schools across all campuses with the lowest median lecturer salaries were at U-M Dearborn and four were at U-M Flint.
Girgis questioned why Ann Arbor’s revenue, which has consistently increased since 2002, has not yet found its way to Dearborn and Flint.
“What we have seen is that there is no trickle down effect from University revenue down to worker salaries,” Girgis said. “It requires people and unions to demand what they’re worth.”
In an email to The Daily, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald wrote the University does not have an excess amount of money that they are allocating to the Ann Arbor campus. He wrote that redirecting funds to the other campuses would make budgetary processes which are currently separate between the schools a bit more challenging, as he wrote the Ann Arbor campus’ revenue is put towards meeting all its own expenses.
“The gap that exists between (state funding and costs recovered from research) and our expected expenses after (reductions in costs) for the upcoming year is what they (the budgetary teams) use to determine the suggested tuition rate,” Fitzgerald wrote. “We then balance this with investments in financial aid and other affordability measures to ensure tuition increases are limited and in line with what families can afford. So the idea is to ensure we have just enough revenue to meet our expenses while managing affordability.”
Despite possible difficulties in fund allocation outlined by the University, Girgis said the salary disparities demonstrate how resources across the campuses are vastly different.
“I think it’s really important for the University to understand its mission as a public institution is to provide students with the education and the tools to go out and make this world a better place,” Girgis said. “The cuts in really important departments in Flint and in Dearborn indicate that the University seems to care more about its profits than it does about actually serving students and the state of Michigan.”
Fitzgerald added that diverting revenue and funding from Ann Arbor to Dearborn and Flint would increase tuition for students in Ann Arbor. Additionally, he wrote the University does not value students differently and that pay disparities often reflect differences in what labor markets demand.
“That said, President Schlissel and the chancellors have been strong advocates for additional funding for all public higher education institutions and greater state investment in direct-to-student need-based financial aid,” Fitzgerald said.
Declining state support for all three of the university’s campuses has led to increases in tuition for students. However, these increases affect the two satellite campuses differently than they affect Ann Arbor. While tuition makes up only 18.67% of Ann Arbor’s annual revenue, it makes up over half of Flint and Dearborn’s revenues.
University President Mark Schlissel appeared before the Michigan House Appropriations Subcommittee in March 2021. Prior to the meeting, The Daily’s data analysis shows decreases in state funding of 38.43%, 35.33% and 31.76% from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, respectively. During this appearance, he urged lawmakers to commit more state funding to public education, citing the University’s contributions to the state of Michigan and the world at large.
“As fellow Michiganders, we can all be proud that when our world needs knowledge, care and understanding most, U-M rises to the challenge,” Schlissel said at the meeting.
However, Marshall said he wonders if those were empty words, questioning whether Schlissel believes the salary disparity between the three campuses is a “challenge” that the administration needs to address.
“They don’t care about the salary disparity, because if they did, they could fix it,” Marshall said. “I also wonder when President Schlissel talks about U-M rising to challenges if he means Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint, or if he means Ann Arbor.”