SENATE COMMITTEE ON FACULTY BENEFITS
This mandated annual report is our analysis of faculty salaries at Penn State. The report is based on tables and figures provided by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost with technical assistance from the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment (OPIA) and the College of Medicine. A few observations that may be of interest to the general audience of the University Faculty Senate are summarized here. More detail is available in the supporting materials including comparisons with other institutions and comparisons among the colleges and campuses within Penn State. Previous annual reports and the tables and figures on which this report is based are available on the Web at http://www.senate.psu.edu/about_senate/committees/fb/13-14/salarytables.pdf. The pdf file of tables and figures is best viewed with Adobe Reader.
There are many statistical factors that contribute to differences in salary that make it difficult to draw direct inferences about individual faculty salaries from these data. Market forces related to discipline specific conditions, non-monetary compensation and benefits, and cost of living differences may not be accurately reflected in the data. Comparisons across institutions or across units within institutions are complicated by unequal distributions in key dimensions such as discipline, rank, length of time in rank, and length of employment. The data presented here are limited and do not always provide sufficient detail for drawing direct inferences about important issues pertaining to faculty compensation like gender or racial inequities. However, these data are useful for initiating discussion and to prompt further more detailed inquiry. The Committee on Faculty Benefits encourages the faculty at Penn State to use these data as a reference.
Salaries among faculty in Penn State’s University Park–based colleges are similar to comparable salaries among institutions participating in the Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE). For the most recent year, 2012–2013, the ratio of Penn State salaries to AAUDE salaries is within 3 percent of the AAUDE average salary for about half of the college/rank comparisons. The highest ratio among all the college/rank comparisons is 1.12 for professors in the College of Information Sciences and Technology. The lowest ratios include a minimum of 0.85 for professors in the College of Arts & Architecture and 0.87 for professors in the Smeal College of Business and the College of Education (Table 1).
The ratios presented in Table 1 indicate that many of the college/rank ratios are lower in 2012–2013 than in 2011–2012. This change in Penn State’s competitive position appears to be a result of more rapid increases in the average salaries at the AAUDE institutions. The cumulative percent changes presented in Table 3 show that, while every college/rank combination shows an increase in the average salary, in many cases the average salary among other AAUDE institutions is increasing at a faster rate.
This “losing ground” effect may also be seen when looking at the data from several years of the Report on Faculty Salaries. While the data show a steady increase in terms of raw dollar value (Figure 1; Figure 2), the increases are just keeping pace with inflation (Figure 3; Figure 4). The decline in Penn State’s competitive position is also reflected in the University’s ranking among selected peer institutions (Table 4). Among a group of 22 other public AAUDE institutions, Penn State had fallen from 5th in 2008–2009 to 9th for professors and 8th for associate professors in 2011–2012. This drop in the rankings may have been reversed as Penn State has moved up several positions in the most recent year, 2012–2013, to among the top of the rankings. Future reports shall continue to examine these rankings.
Among the group of Big Ten public institutions, Penn State’s average salaries have been ranked consistently over recent years (Table 4). The average salary for professors and for associate professors has been among the top among the Big Ten public institutions since at least the 2004–05 academic year. Penn State’s average salary for assistant professors is not as highly ranked among the Big Ten publics. Having ranked 3rd from 2004–05 to 2005–06, the average salary for assistant professors has consistently ranked from 5th to 7th since 2006–07.
Salaries in Penn State’s campus-based colleges seem to rank in the middle among campuses at other Big Ten institutions (Table 7). When compared with campuses of the same type, salaries at Penn State’s campus-based colleges are higher than campuses at other Big Ten institutions. However, these salaries may reflect regional wage differences as Penn State’s average salaries are below the average salaries at other universities in Pennsylvania (Table 8) including the other state-related and state-owned universities. The average salaries at several of Penn State’s campus-based colleges are near or below the average among the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) institutions (Table 8).
Salaries for Penn State’s librarian faculty rank among the top compared to their peers at other public institutions in the Big Ten (Table 9). Penn State salaries for associate librarians and assistant librarians rank as the highest among public institutions in the Big Ten. Penn State’s average librarian salary ranks second among public institutions in the Big Ten.
Among Penn State University Park–based colleges, the faculty in the Smeal College of Business have the highest salaries followed by the faculty in the College of Information Sciences and Technology. The colleges of Arts & Architecture and Communications are the lowest salaries among the Penn State University Park–based colleges. Of all the units with faculty, the University Libraries seem to have the lowest salaries (Table 11).
Variation in salary appears to increase with each higher rank (Table 10; Table 11). This increase in variation is apparent when the data are displayed graphically (Figure 1; Figure 5; Figure 6; Figure 7). The interquartile range (IQR)—the difference between the 75th and 25th percentiles—is typically greatest for professors. For instance, the IQR for standing appointment professors at Penn State University Park is $48,006. The IQR for standing appointment assistant professors at Penn State University Park is $16,257. The mean years in rank also increases with each higher rank, which may account for some of the variation in salary. While there is some increase in variation with each higher rank among the salaries at the Commonwealth Campuses, the IQR for standing appointment faculty at the Commonwealth Campuses tends to be much narrower—only $23,598 for standing appointment professors and $13,221 for standing appointment assistant professors.
Salaries at Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses are generally lower overall than salaries for the same academic rank and appointment type at Penn State University Park (Table 10). This pattern appears to also be true when comparing the salaries in the academic divisions within the campus-based colleges (Table 14) with salaries in colleges of similar disciplinary composition at Penn State University Park (Table 11).
Tables 12 and 13 provide the salary quartiles by gender. At the highest levels of aggregation found in Table 12, the salaries for females appear to be lower than those of males. These results should be interpreted with caution, however, as the male faculty members typically have higher mean years in rank and the level of aggregation does not take into consideration disproportionate representation among colleges and departments. Table 13 provides the salary quartiles by gender at the college-level. At this level, the difference in salaries between females and males diminishes. Graphically, many of the salary ranges by gender seem to overlap with their college counterparts (Figure 5; Figure 6; Figure 7). Where differences do exist, the higher salary range usually coincides with more mean years in rank. Further differentiation by department and/or academic discipline may explain some of the remaining differences. However, the data become sparser with each additional dimension, and at the college level there are data elements that were suppressed due to a low number of individuals. Further differentiation increases the amount of data that must be suppressed.
The Committee on Faculty Benefits has been asked to address the salaries among fixed-term faculty specifically. We commonly tend to use the phrase “fixed-term” when referring to individuals on fixed-term appointments with an academic rank of “instructor” or “lecturer.” This is understandable as more than 60% of the individuals on fixed-term academic appointments have an academic rank of “instructor,” “lecturer,” “senior instructor,” or “senior lecturer” and approximately 95% of the individuals holding those ranks are on “fixed-term” appointments (Table 10). However, it should be noted that under the University’s human resources structure an individual’s academic rank and their appointment type are separate and distinct. There exist individuals on fixed-term appointments holding nearly every possible academic rank. In fact, the next largest group of “fixed-term faculty” would be those holding the rank of “research associate” (Table 11).
Another area of confusion surrounding a discussion of “fixed-term faculty” involves part-time faculty appointments. The University defines full-time appointments as one of standing, fixed-term I, or fixed-term multi-year. There is also an appointment type of “fixed-term II” that is considered part-time under the University’s definitions. The similarity in titles may be the cause of some confusion. As full-time appointments, faculty on fixed-term I or fixed-term multi-year appointments have been included in the Report on Faculty Salaries for many years. Data on part-time faculty, such as those on fixed-term II appointments, have historically not been included in the report due to a number of complicating factors among that class of faculty.
For reasons stated earlier, we limit our discussion of fixed-term faculty specifically to the population of individuals on full-time, fixed-term appointments holding an academic rank of “instructor,” “lecturer,” “senior instructor,” or “senior lecturer.” Even looking solely at this population there are cautions to note. For instance, there are more than 250 individuals from this population in the College of the Liberal Arts alone (Table 11). Since 20% of the total number of these faculty coming from just one college, it may be difficult to discern whether any conclusions drawn from the data reflect the University-wide population or are attributable to circumstances that exist solely within that college.
Just over 50% of the fixed-term instructors and lecturers are located at the Penn State University Park location. As with the standing appointment, professorial salaries, the highest fixed-term instructor/lecturer salaries at University Park are found in the Smeal College of Business. The interquartile range of salaries for instructors in the Smeal College of Business is comparable to the salaries for standing appointment associate professors in the other University Park-based colleges.
While all the other Penn State campuses combined make up less than half of the population of fixed-term instructors University-wide, the population of fixed-term instructors/lecturers is the largest category of faculty among the Commonwealth Campuses where about 38% of all faculty are fixed-term instructors/lecturers (Table 10). Further, while salaries at the Commonwealth Campuses are generally lower than the salaries for the same academic rank at Penn State University Park, the opposite is true among instructors/lecturers. The interquartile range of salary for fixed-term instructors/lecturers among faculty at the Commonwealth Campuses is several thousand dollars higher than their colleagues at Penn State University Park.
Although fixed-term instructors/lecturers generally earn more at the Commonwealth Campuses, salaries for faculty on fixed-term appointments are generally lower than faculty in the same rank on standing appointments. This differential may be due to differences in the length of service. Among standing appointment instructors/lecturers, mean “years in rank” of more than 20 years are not uncommon. While there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that there are individuals among the Penn State faculty who have been on fixed-term appointments continuously renewed for many years, the nature of fixed-term appointments and the methods by which “years in rank” are recorded do not allow us to determine how long an individual has been in a particular fixed-term appointment.
The complete set of data accompanying this report consists of 15 tables and 9 figures. The tables may be considered in two major portions: the interinstitutional comparisons presented in Tables 1–9 and the intrainstitutional comparisons presented in Tables 10–15. The figures are based on data from Tables 10–15 and may also be considered part of the intrainstitutional comparisons. The interinstitutional comparisons in Tables 1–9 may be further divided according to the source of the data: the Association of American Universities Data Exchange, the American Association of University Professors, and the Association of Research Libraries.
Definition of salary The salaries presented in the supporting tables reflect contract salary. These salary figures do not include additional monies an individual may receive such as summer teaching, administrative stipends, or supplemental monies for extra assignments. The salary data also do not include fringe benefits such as the University’s contribution to the individual’s retirement plan, health insurance, or tuition discounts.
The salary data are defined on the basis of a 9-month (36-week) appointment. Unless otherwise noted, salaries for faculty members on 12-month (48-week) appointments are converted to a 9-month equivalent using a standard conversion factor of 0.818.
The Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE) is an organization composed of Association of American Universities (AAU) institutions that contribute their institutional data to the data exchange. The AAU describes itself as “an association of 61 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada.” A recent listing of AAU member institutions is presented in Table 5. While all AAU institutions are eligible to participate in the data exchange, typically only between 50 and 60 percent of the member institutions will submit data to the AAUDE in any given year and are available for an institution’s “main campus” only.
The AAUDE comparisons allow Penn State to benchmark our faculty salaries with other leading research institutions. Direct comparison to other institutions is not available as the confidentiality rules governing participation in the AAUDE prohibit individually identifying institutional data. However, the data may be useful for indicating Penn State’s relative position among the group of AAUDE institutions. Tables 1–3 present comparisons with averages based on all institutions reporting to the AAUDE in the given year. Table 4 uses the AAUDE data to present Penn State’s ranking among a select group of 22 public institutions in the AAUDE and among the other public institutions of the Big Ten.
College-level comparisons are possible using the AAUDE data because of Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code data available in the AAUDE data set. The CIP codes are a taxonomic scheme developed by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to support tracking and reporting of fields of study and program completions activity. The college-level comparisons in Tables 1–3 compare each of Penn State’s colleges with a composite of equivalent CIP codes from other AAUDE institutions.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) conducts an annual survey of faculty compensation, the Faculty Compensation Survey (FCS). The results of the FCS are published in March–April issue of the AAUP magazine, Academe, as part of their Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession. The data from the FCS are used as the source for Tables 6–8. The availability of the FCS data permits direct interinstitutional comparisons. Table 6 presents Penn State’s average salaries ranked among the average salaries for the other institutions in the Big Ten.
While Table 6 only includes the “main campuses” for each institution, Table 7 and Table 8 present Penn State’s average salaries for University Park as well as for each of the campus-based colleges. Table 7 presents the average salaries at Penn State University Park and at each of the campus-based colleges ranked among the average salaries for other institutions in the Big Ten with satellite campuses. Table 8 focuses on more regional comparisons presenting the average salaries for Penn State University Park and each of the campus-based colleges in comparison to other institutions in Pennsylvania including a composite of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (SSHE) institutions.
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is an organization of 126 research libraries in the United States and Canada. Through membership in the ARL, Penn State shares salary-related data for our librarian faculty. Table 9 presents Penn State’s librarian salaries in comparison to other institutions in the Big Ten. The ARL data are also aggregated with the AAUP data in Table 6, which also compares Penn State’s salaries with other institutions in the Big Ten.
The intrainstitutional comparisons are based on Penn State’s internal data sources. Tables 10–14 are based on a snapshot of the human resource database taken at the end of September 2013. These snapshot data are used for the University’s official reporting activities. These data include all individuals classified as “academic” with a full-time appointment type—standing, fixed-term I, or fixed-term multi-year. Table 15 is provided by the Hershey Medical Center to provide information on average salaries for faculty at the Medical Center.
Tables 10–13 present salary quartiles and mean years in rank along a few key dimensions. Table 10 and Table 11 each present these data by rank within appointment type category—standing or fixed-term. Table 10 aggregates the data according to campus category while Table 11 aggregates the data by college or unit for the faculty at Penn State University Park. Tables 12 and 13 expand the presentation in Tables 10 and 11 presenting the data by gender within rank and appointment type category. Table 12 aggregates the data according to campus category. Table 13 presents the quartiles aggregated by college or unit for the faculty at Penn State University Park.
The salary quartiles for the campus-based colleges are presented in Table 14. Again the data are presented by rank within appointment type category. The data are aggregated by college and by division or department within the college.
The supporting materials accompanying this report offer a number of different perspectives on faculty salaries. The data presented in the supporting materials are an attempt to provide as objective an analysis as possible. However, readers are cautioned to consider the limitations of these data before drawing any conclusions based on the data presented here.
Direct comparisons with other institutions can be difficult as organizations differ in structure. Often there are unequal proportions among one or more key factors such as rank, academic discipline, age, and years of experience. The use of the average as the reported statistic further complicates the comparison, since the average is so susceptible to the influence of extreme values in the population.
Comparisons based on internal data may seem to be an opportunity to exercise more control over the chosen statistic. Many of the supporting tables accompanying this report present salary quartiles, which are much less likely to be influenced by extreme values. But interpreting differences between percentiles can be more difficult than differences based on the average. Unequal proportions among the groupings within the organization could create paradoxical situations where conclusions based on data at one level of aggregation may not be supported at a finer level of detail.
The data presented in the supporting tables reflect the entire population. Therefore, any differences between groupings are actual differences and the statistical significance of the difference is not an issue. Before drawing any conclusions from those differences, readers are reminded that there are many factors that affect an individual’s salary. The data presented in the supporting tables reflect a few factors that seem most relevant to the interests of the Faculty Senate. Properly controlling for the number of factors known to affect an individual’s salary would require an analysis beyond the scope of this report. There are also factors such as market forces, non-monetary compensation and benefits, lifestyle choices, professional reputation, and individual personality that are not reflected in the data.
The data available in the tables accompanying this report present a number of perspectives on faculty salaries at Penn State. Despite these many perspectives, these data reflect a limited view of faculty compensation. While it can be difficult to draw inferences from these limited data, the Committee on Faculty Benefits hopes that these data can be useful in enabling Penn State’s faculty members to be better informed about their salary relative to their colleagues both within Penn State and at some of Penn State’s peer institutions.
COMMITTEE ON FACULTY BENEFITS
Jayant N. Acharya
Susan McGarry Basso
Gary L. Catchen
Linda E. Clark, Vice Chair
Rebecca C. Craven
Amy R. Dietz
Peter C. Jurs
Lori B. Miraldi
Kathleen J. Noce
Daniel P. Nugent
Robin L. Oswald
Ira J. Ropson, Chair