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Cook Helpers vs. Assistant Professors

Einstein Cook Helper.jpgYesterday we looked at the salary ($33,905/year) and the princely benefits available to a Cook Helper at the College — the lowest paid union position at Dartmouth. The minimum professional requirements for the Cook Helper position are not even firm; they are only suggestions: a high school diploma and six months of food service experience (McDonald’s, I expect, will do fine).

Let’s try to put that information into perspective.

The requirements for a tenure-track Assistant Professorship at Dartmouth are rock hard: a four-year university diploma and a doctoral degree, which usually takes five years of graduate study to obtain. These certifications generally must come from one of the world’s top institutions. Competition for open positions is fierce, and job security is limited to a three-year contract.

Therefore it might come as a surprise to readers that the average salary of an Assistant Professor at the College in 2008 according to the American Association of University Professors was only $79,700/year. But you should recall that this average figure includes high-paying departments like Economics. In fact, at Dartmouth there are a good many young Assistant Professors earning in the mid-$60k’s, about twice the annual salary of a Cook Helper. Not a great return on investment for nine years of higher education, n’est-ce pas?

I wonder: if we paid our junior faculty more and our Cook Helpers less, would Dartmouth be able to attract better junior faculty, or — here’s an idea — more faculty members.

Note: I vaguely recall a failed political system wherein university professors earned only slightly more compensation than workers, but the exact name of that system escapes me at the moment. Can you help me remember, Tovarisch?

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