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Letter to the editor:
The Clarion | May 1, 2009
Clarifying the faculty salary issue
I read with interest the front page article about faculty raises not
being included in the new budget. Thank you for your interest in
this topic but your article does not accurately describe the current
faculty salary situation. Having tracked faculty salaries at Brevard
College for a number of years, I would like to share some addi
tional information with your readers which can help them reach
their own conclusion about the degree that BC faculty salaries lag
in comparison to our peers.
First, let me say that I understand that salary increases may not
be feasible this year with the current economic conditions and
enrollment numbers. However, that does not mean that salary in
creases for faculty AND staff are not desperately needed. I would
like to briefly summarize data that I think show, using a variety of
comparison groups, that BC faculty salaries are significantly below
our peers. Data for faculty can be found at http://chronicle.com/
stats/salary/salary.htm. Data for staff are not as readily avaflable,
but suffice it to say our excellent persoimel are undercompensated,
rU share with your readers a brief summary of the data compar
ing BC faculty salaries with several peer groups. One comparison
group is the Appalachian CoUege Association (ACA), a peer group
of schools that we belong to as an academic cohort. Another
comparison group consists of schools in our athletic conference
(SAC), and the third a group of peer schools identified by the col
lege in 2008.
When comparing the salaries of our faculty by rank with the
mean of the ACA schools for the year 2008-2009, our full profes
sor and associate professor salaries made over $7,000 dollars a
year less than the average of their peers. 15-16 of
the other 20 schools had salaries above ours. At the
Assistant Professor rank, BC professors made $3,7
00 less than their peers. Comparing our salaries
with the salaries of other schools in the SAC con
ference, full professors here average $7,600 less.
Associate professors average over $9,000 less and
assistant professors over $5,000 less than our peers.
All schools in our athletic conference who reported
data had salaries that are higher than those that BC
faculty make. The data are very similar when one
uses the peer schools identified by the college inFeb.
2008. The Board of Trustees and the Strategic Plan
both identified compensation as an important way
to recruit and retain quality staff Specific detafls
regarding how this wiU be accomphshed need to be
defined, especially considering the current freeze, the
economic situation and the data below.
Comparing BC faculty salaries to our peers pro
vides useful data to see how competitive our salaries
are and in what direction we are heading. If one
looks at the data for 2007 and compares it with 2008, one wiU see
that the salary gap has widened despite the increase the college
provided for salaries. Full professors fell behind as a group by
roughly $4 thousand more dollars per year than they were behind
the previous year. Associate professors feU behind by an additional
$1,500, approximately, and now lag our peers by around $8K.
Assistant professors at BC, as a group, made salaries that were
about $4-5K lower than our peers, but did narrow the gap slightly
by $500-1,000 thousand doUars a year. In conclusion, I look at
this data and conclude that we are not doing okay with regard to
faculty (and staff) salaries. We are significantly lagging behind
and seem to be getting further behind even in years where there
are increases in the salary pool.
In a survey done about a year ago, faculty members were asked
to rate their degree of satisfaction with nine items, including salary.
Salary satisfaction was rated lower than any other item, with an
average rating of below two on a 5-point scale. Location was rated
the highest, about 4.5. Brevard CoUege, in my opinion, is a won
derful place to work and the setting is as close to perfect as I could
hope to see. I began my teaching career 22 years ago, teaching at
a small liberal arts college. At that time two decades ago I made
shghtly less than I make now at BC. If I were still at that coUege,
at the associate professor rank, I would now be making $31,000
more than I am making now at BC. Yes, I love my job and where I
am, and yes, I came to BC by choice, but I am not alone in thinking
that BC has a significant deficiency in employee salaries.
—Mary Kay White, Associate Professor
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