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Data on Administrative university salary vs Faculty/instructor salary?

Duns Eith

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So, I am foolishly going into humanities with the intent to teach, and basically I am shocked at how little teachers get paid. I know, everyone says this.


For example, suppose you are teaching one class at a university that charges $450 /credit hour, we're looking at a 3hr course costing $1,350 per student. Suppose the class size is small, like 15-20, then the class generates somewhere between $20,250 and $27000. That one class alone an adjunct is getting paid maybe $700-1000 a credit hour ($2,100-3,000). This means that the most conservative estimate of the revenue the university gets (after instruction fees, but before administrative costs) $17,250 for that one class. Suppose you're tenured and you're taking a 3/4 load, with about 30 students a semester, you're looking at (210 students) x (3 credits) x ($450 /cr hr) = $283,500, but the tenured instructor is getting less than a third, closer to 1/4 of that.


... So my question is, where on earth does the lion share of the revenue (likely over 3/4 of the income) go to???


Of course, these numbers are hypothetical, but (I think) realistic. Some schools the tuition is far more, and the pay rate is barely higher; other schools the tuition is far lower, and the pay rate is far lower. I know there are huge costs related to liability, lawyers, advertising/marketing, buildings and ground maintenance, campus police/security, new building projects, IT/technological backbone, etc. I just don't know how the salaries for educators compares with the salaries of non-educators at the same institution.


Does anyone have actual data or studies showing the pies of various schools, where administrative costs are compared with the instruction cost? Does anyone have specifically some salary comparisons, for administrative/staff vs faculty/adjunct?

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I don't have any hard data at hand, but I know that administrative costs (including insanely high salaries for college presidentsfootball coaches) are exploding.


Fixed that for you.



But seriously, you're comparing apples to oranges in more than one way, which makes the question difficult to answer. Besides what you mentioned (i.e., different job roles), there's also the fact that teaching staff are usually low-status, temporary adjuncts but administrative staff are full-time permanent. Thankfully more institutions are creating teaching-stream appointments that, I hear, come with better salary and stability. I've heard that teaching staff are paid better at business schools because the ridiculously high MBA tuition and expectation of quality teaching promotes it.

Edited by lewin
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For any state school, salary is public.  I've done a little digging into salaries for my undergrad because I was encouraged by a female professor who had been with the department for over 10 years.  It turned out that she was making less than male professors in the department who had been there for less time and had brought in fewer grants!  While that alone was a sad realization, I learned that she made 1/4 of what a business professor made.  Of course, the argument is that business schools have to compete with industry so they have to pay higher salaries to get decent professors.  But even the business professors couldn't compete with the medical professors who pulled in anywhere from $300,000-$800,000.  Then I looked at the administrative pay.  The men's basketball coach was making close to $4 million a year.  The president of the school was getting around $650,000 a year (not to mention all of those dubious 'deferred compensation' monies).  With deferred compensation, the higher administration was getting over $1 million a year.  The "lowly" admin staff (the ones without which nothing would get done) made between $30,000 and $45,000. 

It was (and is) a harsh reality.  The pay seems so damn uneven. 

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Teaching adjuncts are severely underpaid. However, I don't think it's fair to say that there is an injustice if the majority of the tuition cost does not go towards paying for costs related to that course.


This is because the reality is that tuition pays for a lot more than the cost of running the class. Tuition is a major source of university income that pays for all of the other things the University wants to spend money on. I know that in my last department, each department's budget is set by the Faculty of Science based on how many students enroll in their classes. This money is then used to pay for graduate students (TAs), pay for external speakers to give seminars, pay for administrative staff, pay for professor salaries, etc. 


So basically for a research oriented department, teaching is often the task that professors have to spend some fraction of their time doing so that they can bring in the money to do the other stuff they also want to do. However, universities have found a way to exploit this--let's hire adjuncts and pay them crap so that we can get the most tuition money while expending the least amount of money! 


What I mean to say here is that I don't think it's correct to view tuition how much students pay in order to take a course. Instead, it's the money they pay in order to support the school that is providing their education. I still find the treatment of many adjuncts reprehensible but I don't think the solution is to decrease the gap between "tuition income" and "adjunct pay". Instead, I think the right thing to do is to stop hiring adjuncts and hire tenure tracked professors that also benefit from the tuition income in the above ways. 

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This thread reminds me of an anecdote--I think it's from Naomi Klein's No Logo--where sweatshop workers became dissatisfied because they saw the shirts they were getting pennies to make were being sold for like a hundred dollars. The company's solution was to have foreign workers make the clothes but add the price tags domestically. Maybe you'd be more satisfied if you don't think about how much the consumers are paying for your product ;)




...aaaaand I should have listened to my own advice. I teach large sections that by my math bring in $120,000/section tuition and I get paid $8,000. There are two TA's who each get $5,000.

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