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You Gets What You Pays For

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s salary survey is out, and once again the College’s faculty is having its nose rubbed in the mud. How can the administration be so short-sighted as to leave Dartmouth’s professors angry over what amounts to a small difference in salary. As you will recall, at a meeting of the faculty on May 23, 2016, the assembled professors voiced in no uncertain terms their upset at being paid less than their peers — and yet at the same time the Committee on the Faculty (COF) noted that the compensation gap could be filled with a collective annual raise of only $5.4 million (peanuts in the context of the administration’s billion-dollar budget). Here’s how we rank:

CHE Salaries by Institution.jpg

The above figures bear closer review. Note that while we trail Harvard in salaries for full professors by 30% and for associate professors by 23%, the gap for incoming, tenure-track profs is a whopping 78%. In fact, among all top undergraduate institutions, and indubitably among the Ivies, we pay our assistant professors less than anyone.

Talk about mortgaging the College’s future to fund an inefficient present. We are less competitive among the people whom we hope will one day be Dartmouth’s stars. With this kind of salary differential, top performers will almost always go to competing institutions.

It is worth noting again (and again) that there is absolutely no justification for such parsimony. We charge more in tuition, room and board and fees than anyone in the Ivies except Columbia, we give financial aid to fewer students than any other Ivy, and more importantly, our endowment/student figure is almost double that of every Ivy school outside of HYP. Wow. How is it that our endowment/student is far higher than Penn’s, yet Penn can charge less for tuition and pay its professors far more than Dartmouth? How? I expect that Penn has leaders who understand that paying money to professors is more important to the health of a school than funding armies of useless deans. That’s how.

Addendum: To put into correct perspective the ungenerous wage of $78,390 that Dartmouth pays on average to assistant professors (which means that Humanities professors earn even less than this amount in order to balance the higher earnings of Econ profs), note that this salary is exactly twice, and only twice, the wage earned by a 20-year-old union custodian at the College — a person who has been on the job for eighteen months and is not required as a condition of employment to have completed high school. 100% is not much of premium for an assistant professor in exchange for about nine years of the finest post-secondary education in the land. Does it not feel like we are back in the USSR?

Addendum: For the record, President Hanlon’s salary in 2014 was $1,124,289.

Addendum: Cornell is #28 in the salary ranking. However, it pays assistant professors on average $108,774/year — $30,384 (38.8%) more per year than Dartmouth.

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