Harvard, Stanford, Yale – whenever the University competes academically, it compares itself to the best schools in the country.
But when the University competes at offering faculty salary increases, it conveniently brings itself down to a bracket where public schools are the only competitors and faculty salaries are far lower, said Medical School Prof. Charles Koopmann.
“It’s like driving a Mercedes Benz – at the cost of an economy car,” said the former chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, the executive arm of University faculty governance. “If you don’t look at the salaries of administrators, faculty salaries are inadequate.”
This year the University gave its faculty and staff a modest salary increase despite repeated state funding cuts. University faculty averaged a 3.7-percent increase in their salaries for the 2006 fiscal year. That figure is the highest in the past four years and will most likely outpace the 2005 inflation rate.
Administrators say the University is offering competitive salary increases on par with the country’s best colleges. But according to Koopman, who served as SACUA chair from 2002-2004, overall faculty salaries and benefits don’t measure up with the top schools the University compares itself to.
According to the American Association for University Professors, in 2004-05 the highest paid full-time professors at the University earned an average of $120,200. Faculty salaries at other public schools hovered near the same; for example, the highest paid professors at the University of California at Los Angeles average $123,300.
But salaries at private schools are in a league of their own. At Princeton University, the highest paid full-time professors earned $151,100, about 25 percent higher than at the University.
With the quality of University faculty comparable to top private colleges like Harvard, Koopmann said the University should be compensating its instructors with a salary equivalent to those schools.
“We are going to compete academically with the elite private schools. But we are going to compete salary-wise with public schools. That’s what I call cherry-picking,” he said.
And although the University is facing state budget cuts, Koopman said administrators are choosing to use campus financial resources for the construction of buildings that could be diverted to increase faculty salaries.
Administrators said they have made boosting faculty salaries a top priority.
According to the AAUP, last year the University exceeded the average salary increase offered to college instructors by four-tenths of a percent.
Faced with cutbacks by the state, in the past three years the University has grappled with tens of millions of dollars in budget cuts. Last July, University President Mary Sue Coleman expressed concern that the continued budget cuts would dull the University’s competitive edge in recruiting and retaining top college faculty by reducing instructors’ salary increases.
“The University is aware that in tough budget times it’s easy to lose good faculty,” University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said. “We recognize that a lot of universities would like to have (our faculty).”
Since 2004, administrators have eliminated 400 staff positions and reduced course offerings while simultaneously streamlining operations of the University to deal with the financial cuts and still maintain the University’s quality of education. Administrators also earmarked $4.5 million this year for the recruitment and retention of top faculty.
Phil Hanlon, associate provost for academic and budgetary affairs, said the University has been able to hold its own against other prestigious colleges with its modest salary increases so far.
“But you have to be vigilant all the time,” Hanlon said, noting that many of the University’s competitors are armed with more resources to recruit and retain the best professors. Failing to offer competitive salaries could jeopardize the University’s standing, he added.
But Koopman questioned the University’s commitment to retaining its faculty. President Coleman will receive a $100,000 per-year bonus as a reward for staying at the University five years. Koopman wondered why outstanding professors do not receive similar retention bonuses as well.
“The faculty has been very passive on this (salary) issue,” Koopman said. “In the end the University will get what it pays for.”
The highest-paid University employee this year is Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Robert Kelch, at $637,777. Coleman ranks second with $501,458, not including bonuses. Head football coach Lloyd Carr will earn $337,494.
The average staff salary increase dipped down to 2.8 percent, slightly below last year’s raise of 3 percent. The medical school saw only a 2.68-percent increase in salaries this year despite a boost in funding from grants, mainly due to budget cuts, said Deb Komorowski, director of faculty affairs at the medical school.
The Big Eight
in University of Michigan salaries
1. Robert Kelch
Executive VP for Medical Affairs
Last year’s rank: 1
2. Mary Sue Coleman
Last year’s rank: 3
3. Allen Lichter
Medical School Dean
Last year’s rank: 5
4. Robert Dolan
Dean, Business School
Last year’s rank: 7
5. Douglas Strong
Health Systems Interim Director
Last year’s rank: 9
6. Bill Martin
Last year’s rank: 28
7. Zelda Geyer-Sylvia
Last year’s rank: 10
8. Lloyd Carr
Head Football Coach
Last year’s rank: 12