Monday, November 7, 2011

Wage Disparities in the Professorial Ranks

In a previous post, I presented data on wage inequality in the UC system amongst different types of high-earning employees; what I would like to do now is to discuss inequities in the professorial ranks (these statistics do not include medical, law, or business professors).

One way of approaching this data is to first look at the average salaries for assistant, associate, and full professors. For instance, in 2010, there were 3,246 full professors, and their average total compensation was $139,633. Meanwhile, during the same time period, we find 1,322 associate professors with an average gross pay of $117,527, and 984 assistant professors with an average total pay of $76,949.

While the system-wide average gross pay for all academic professors was $116,665 in 2010, if we look at this average on the different campuses, we find the following: UCLA - $137,683; Berkeley - $127,607; San Diego - $118,480; Santa Barbara - $115,349; Davis - $101,903; Riverside - $98,107; Irvine - $107,462; Merced - $88,229; and Santa Cruz - $99,797. Excluding Merced, we see that the difference between the average academic professor salaries at UCLA and Riverside is $39,576 or 34%.

Also, looking historically, we know that in 2004, there were 216 full professors making more than $200,000, and in 2006, the number of high earners dropped to 194, but in 2008, this same category jumped to 380, and in 2010, it went down slightly to 372. Therefore, the number of full professors making over $200,000 nearly doubled between 2006 and 2008 and has since stabilized. Meanwhile, if we look at the salaries of assistant professors during this same period, we find that the number of assistants making less than $70,00 stayed almost the same between 2004 and 2008: there were 577 assistant professors making less than $70,000 in 2004; 553 in 2006; 558 in 2008; and 401 in 2010. These statistics tells us that the salary growth for academic professors was concentrated at the top during the period of 2006 and 2008.

It would be interesting to look at the salary disparities in the different disciplines, but this information is not available. Over all, it appears that the biggest wage disparities occur between the campuses with the highest number of graduate students (UCLA, UCB, UCSD), and the ones with the highest percentage of undergraduates (UCR, UCM, UCSC).


  1. Current pay increases for generously paid University of California Faculty is arrogance. Instate tuition consumes 14% of Ca. Median Family Income!
    Paying more is not a better education. UC Berkeley(# 70 Forbes) tuition increases exceed the national average rate of increases. Chancellor Birgeneau has molded Cal. into the most expensive public university.
    UC President Yudof, Cal. Chancellor Birgeneau($450,000 salary) dismissed many much needed cost-cutting options. They did not consider freezing vacant faculty positions, increasing class size, requiring faculty to teach more classes, doubling the time between sabbaticals, cutting & freezing pay & benefits for chancellors & reforming pensions & the health benefits.
    They said such faculty reforms “would not be healthy for UC”. Exodus of faculty, administrators? Who can afford them and where would they go?
    We agree it is far from the ideal situation, but it is in the best interests of the university system & the state to stop cost increases. UC cannot expect to do business as usual: raising tuition; granting pay raises & huge bonuses during a weak economy that has sapped state revenues & individual Californians’ income.
    There is no question the necessary realignments with economic reality are painful. Regent Chairwoman Lansing can bridge the public trust gap with reassurances that salaries & costs reflect California’s economic reality. The sky above UC will not fall

    Opinions? Email the UC Board of Regents

  2. typo: "in 2004, there were 216 full professors making more than $200,000, and in 2006, the number of high earners grew to 194," -> dropped

    Interesting data, lots to analyze. In assessing the absolute numbers of profs in the income categories--did the overall number of profs change much between 2004 and 2010? How about the relative numbers of asst, assoc and full?

    Discouraging: as a late-term UC assoc. prof. I make less than the average asst. prof at UC. A breakdown by field might be very telling.

  3. Since the data you use seem to be showing the *total* compensation, I wonder if you corrected for things like medical schools? A clinical professor in a medical school is compensated well above a typical academic professor, with the bulk of the difference coming from the clinical services they provide. Now, UCLA has a large medical school while UCR hasn't got one.
    Could that account for some of the difference you mention? It would be helpful to know that apples are being compared to apples here.

  4. As I wrote in my post, these are academic professors, and the totals do not include medical or law or business professors.

  5. Thanks, my bad -- I missed that line in your original post.
    I assume these amounts include summer salaries, do they not? (If so, this could explain a part of HMarcuse's predicament: summer pay is quite rare in the humanities but relatively common in sciences and engineering.) Of course, on general grounds you would expect bigger and better schools to be doing better with bringing extramural funding used to pay those summer salaries. Size also matters in STEM fields because it helps establish various centers which in turn bring in more funding -- there is a positive feedback loop there.
    Do you know if its possible to parse your data by different fields, or at least get an idea whether these wage disparities persist at the level of 9 month salaries? I assume they do, but it would be instructive to see how significant a contributor summer salaries are.

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