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Pennsylvania university professors' pay eclipses averages

Debra Erdley
| Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Professors at Pennsylvania's 18 state-owned and -related universities fared well in their paychecks last year compared to colleagues at comparable schools across the country, according to a new survey.

The survey by the American Association of University Professors looked at salaries of full-time faculty at 1,319 universities and colleges. It found salary increases failed to keep pace with inflation over the past two years when salaries grew by 1.4 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

The numbers also showed average salaries at Pennsylvania's four state-related schools -- the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities -- eclipsed averages at comparable schools in nearly every category. Average salaries for full professors ranged from $133,500 at Penn State to $97,000 at Lincoln. Associate professors earned averages ranging from $92,200 at Temple to $73,800 at Lincoln.

Although professors at the 14 State System of Higher Education schools earned slightly less than most of those at the state-related schools, their earnings also eclipsed averages in nearly every category among comparable schools.

Kevin Kodish, spokesman for the state system faculty union, said those figures could be misleading because comparable schools included universities in areas of the country where the cost of living is much lower.

"You need to look at schools in the mid-Atlantic region. That's where we're competing for talent with the schools in our region," he said. "We've already had problems attracting and retaining faculty members because some of the private schools offer higher salaries."

Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a 50 percent cut in state funding to universities next year and suggested universities must share the pain of closing a $4 billion state budget gap.

Steve Hicks, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, which represents 6,000 professors and coaches at the 14 state system schools, said the group, which accepted a freeze four years ago, is prepared to negotiate a pay freeze for the coming year.

The salary survey showed state-owned schools, such as California, Slippery Rock, Indiana and West Chester universities, all topped comparable schools in wages for full professors, associate and assistant professors.

Full professors at the four schools earned an average of $103,700 at California to $106,600 at Indiana, while salaries for assistant professors ranged from $64,600 at Indiana to $74,100 at Slippery Rock.

Like the state system schools, Penn State is planning for a salary freeze next year. Full professors at University Park earned an average $133,500 a year, compared with $120,577 a year for professors at comparable schools.

At Pitt, salaries for full professors eclipsed those at comparable schools only slightly -- $132,800, compared with $129,330. Assistant professors and instructors at Pitt fared worse than their colleagues at comparable schools -- $72,200 at Pitt, compared with $77,519 at comparable schools and $43,600 for instructors at Pitt, compared with $55,220 at comparable schools.

Like Penn State, Pitt froze salaries in 2009-10.

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