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Revisiting Faculty Compensation

As Joe Asch ‘79 has noted, the College’s uncompetitive faculty compensation is a continual source of discontent among Dartmouth professors. We now have updated data for the most recent year:


As previously explained, the College fell behind peer schools during the recession despite progress through 2009 on the issue. Dartmouth has treaded water since then; our compensation has only tracked the pay of our “Non-Ivy-League Peers” for several years (and has even fallen a shade below them). 2017 brings more of the same. One might reasonably ask about the component schools in the “Non-Ivy-League Peers” comparison group. Take a look:


Yikes. The University of Chicago, Duke, and Northwestern are worthy as peer institutions. Reaching somewhat, one might say that Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis, and Georgetown are as well. But Boston College and the University of Rochester? They have no business on that list. Needless to say, someone could have selected a better comparison group. If the College is now falling below even this benchmark, then our decline speaks to exactly how poor a job the administration has done in managing the faculty.

Moving on to a breakdown by academic rank, the latest data show, once again, that Dartmouth is especially far behind at the more junior ranks of Assistant and Associate Professor, the members of the faculty who represent the College’s future (click on the image to enlarge it):


We previously reported in 2016 that $5.4 million per year would close the pay gap between the College and the U.S. News Top 20 schools. Now, consider the fact that Government Professor Stephen Brooks stated at this May’s faculty meeting that an extra $1.4 million per year for the next four years has finally been set aside for raises to make the faculty whole. That $5.6 million in total — peanuts compared to the school’s average year-on-year spending increase — should just about do it. For a perennially undercompensated faculty, those raises cannot come soon enough.

While fixing the faculty’s undercompensation is to be commended, there is still much else to be done. With the painfully slow pace of the current capital campaign, it will be an eternity before the promised increase to faculty research stipends (unchanged in nominal dollars since 1995!) will materialize. Moreover, pressures on the available stock of office space, both in terms of quantity and quality, remain omnipresent. Solving these problems cannot wait.

And to think that we have cut corners in all of these areas (to which you might add substandard dorms) and yet we still outspend peer schools in our overall budget.

Joe Asch Addendum: Phil is now in his fifth year leading the College. Why did it take him so long to understand the legitimacy of the faculty’s concerns about compensation and act on them?

In response to the argument that the cost of living in New Hampshire is lower than elsewhere, and therefore faculty salaries go further here, why is it then that Dartmouth’s tuition is among the very highest in the Ivies?


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