I spent some time Tuesday collecting some numbers and looking back at Guilford salaries. My goal was to recreate some of the numbers that Guilford used to report in its annual Factbook. That Factbook no longer exists, as far as I can tell, and the reporting of salaries compared to standards fizzled out in about 2013. So, it’s been a while since we had a comparison like what we used to have.
The target group we used to use for salary comparisons was Category IIB, a classification that includes institutions that grant primarily baccalaureate degrees. Guilford far exceeds the minimum degree requirements for this category and is nowhere near the postbaccalaureate degree requirements for Category IIA, even with our new Master’s program, so it’s clearly where we belong. More on these categories is available here.
I collected and processed the last seven years of the AAUP Annual Survey, which collects reports from most higher education institutions and produces an annual report. These reports are here. I selected only the Category IIB institutions in these reports. Guilford consistently reports to the AAUP like every good institution should.
I also have a record of many years of Guilford’s self-reported salaries and comparative percentiles, which I collected from the Factbooks back when they were available. I have those covering the years 2007/8 to 2013/14. These included faculty salaries at different ranks (also reported to AAUP) and a calculation of percentiles compared to the Category IIB pool. These reports also included percentiles for two categories of staff – administrative and support staff. I don’t have the data to extend these staff reports to today, and I’m not sure what data sets were used to created the reported statistics.
This first graph shows faculty salaries at four different ranks (indicated by colors), for Guilford (heavy dashed and solid lines) and AAUP Category IIB (thin dotted lines).
The dashed lines and the solid lines (representing Guilford salaries) overlap for three years, 2011-2013. As you can see, even though one was reported by Institutional Research and the other produced by me, they agree very closely, except for one blip in assistant professors in 2012. That gives me confidence that I’m doing this mostly right.
Here are insights I draw from these data sets:
- Guilford’s faculty salaries rose from 2007-2009, then stagnated or dropped from 2007-2016. At the higher ranks, average salaries in unadjusted dollars dropped, probably due to retirements coupled with very limited raises. If we scaled salaries to cost-of-living, this drop would be even more severe, as there was a mostly consistent inflation rate of 1-3% during this time.
- Probably in response to new hiring at nearer-to-market salaries, associate professors narrowed their gap with higher ranks as time went on.
- The raises in the middle of the 2016-17 year are clear at the right side of the graph. The smaller summer 2018 raises are not represented in the time range covered.
- During the period of salary stagnation, our Category IIB peers showed consistent growth in median salaries at all ranks.
- The January 2017 raises (at least as represented here), though much bigger than in recent years, did fairly little to close the widening gap between Guilford and peer institutions, as they were only a bit higher than the overall Category IIB increase.
The values for the two categories of staff are no longer reported, so they only extend to 2013. Again, there is mostly agreement between my numbers (covering 2011-2017) and the Factbook numbers (2007-2013) where they overlap, except for one year of assistant professor numbers.
Some observations from these data sets:
- As one would expect from the dollar values shown in the first graph, our percent rank dropped at all faculty ranks.
- Instructors, who were nearly at the Category IIB median in 2011, showed the greatest decline in percentile, although not the lowest overall percentile.
- Associate professors hit bottom the hardest, reaching a low-water mark of 13th percentile in 2016-17. For reference, here are the five schools on either side of us on a ranked list of IIB associate professor salaries that year:
- Saint Joseph’s College
College of Southern Nevada
Lewis-Clark State College
University of Montana-Western
Dakota Wesleyan University
Ouachita Baptist University
- Saint Joseph’s College
- Staff percentiles were nearly always higher than faculty percentiles when reported. This is likely due to several factors, such as (1) stronger market pressure for hiring new staff closer to peer salaries, (2) much higher rates of turnover, such that staff positions reset to market more frequently than faculty positions, because faculty tend to be much less mobile, especially following tenure.
- Even with these structural factors, it seems likely that institutional leadership, budgeting, prioritization, and decision-making played a role in the growing disparity between the groups. My guess is that the percentiles for staff declined with faculty, but that they stayed stronger for the staff groups than faculty groups during the lean years. We lost more staff members than faculty due to layoffs during this time, but the reported salary numbers are an average that shouldn’t change with group size alone. I can’t think of a compelling reason why the average staff salaries and their percentiles would decline much even with the layoffs, as the layoffs were not focused among highly paid indiviuals.
- Again, the raises in January 2017 provided a significant boost to faculty, but not enough to erase the previous eight years of wage stagnation and decline.
- There were raises in August 2018 also, but those raises were small, not much more than inflation, and my guess is they would lead us to lose ground to our Category IIB peers during the 2018-19 year, as they likely grew more than we did. It will be interesting to see the 2018-19 numbers to see how it plays out.
One caveat – there was a very significant number of retirements (and, sadly, deaths) among senior faculty in the 2016-17 academic year – without looking it up, I think it was 8-10 people. By itself, that would likely be big enough to affect the average numbers for Guilford full professors, as would any year with a hiring freeze for assistant professors, but without specific numbers I can’t determine the magnitude. Obviously transitions and promotions at other ranks would have an impact as well.