I missed Parade Magazine’s annual report on the amount of money folks across the U.S. make. I wasn’t all that disappointed about missing it as it always left me feeling like a loser – well, at least as far as income goes. But then I remind myself that not everything is about money and I move on.
The recent article in The Forum that stated the average full professor salary at NDSU is $100,000 made me feel about the same as the annual Parade magazine feature, as I do not make anywhere near $100,000. I sure did hear from a lot of folks about how fat my salary was after that article. $100,000 is an awful lot of money and folks were a little shocked to learn that I made that much. I wish…I would feel like a Rockefeller if I made $100,ooo a year.
I understand why folks get confused. Those on the outside of higher education don’t spend too much time concerning themselves with the internal ranking hierarchy – a professor is a professor – period. Most folks skimmed right over the information that the average was for full professors, not the other lower ranking professors.
To be fair, the article, does fairly state basic facts about faculty salaries, but there is so much more to the story. When the article says – “the average full professor at NDSU earns about $100,000 a year – a salary that has jumped $42,500 in the past dozen years” – it is correct. Alas, what you might not know is that those full professors have spent many years getting to that rank and the $42,500 jump is attributable to trying to raise the full professors’ pay up to a fair amount given what new assistant professors are coming in making.
For instance, prior to the increases that were purposefully instituted over the past decade, a full professor who had been at the university for more than 20 years could be making as little as 25% more than a new faculty member hired at the assistant level. The monetary incentive for moving up from the associate to full professor level used to be paltry given the work involved in seeking the promotion. The disparity was nothing short of ridiculous. I am happy that the university spent the time and energy to make this situation right.
As for those who say $100,000 for a quality full professor is too much money to pay – I’d suggest taking a good look at what faculty are paid at comparable institutions…North Dakota faculty aren’t on the top of the salary list by any means (and yes, that remains true even if one adjusts for cost-of-living from one location to the next).
Not that I am complaining about my pay. I get to do what I love and they pay me for it. I think my life is pretty grand.
My friend Katherine posted a great picture on my Facebook wall today that I think sums up nicely why I (and most other teachers) teach.
I remember years ago when I stopped to question in which direction I should go in emergency management – practice or teaching. I thought long and hard about it. Obviously I chose teaching – even though I knew the pay would be dramatically less than in the field. I chose teaching because I knew that with teaching I could extend my work much farther – far beyond my initial reach. By teaching I get to help foster the development of so many bright, enthusiastic, capable, and caring students that can each go out and help save one small piece of the world. I made the absolute right choice for me.
So to answer the questions I have gotten:
Do I earn a decent living by North Dakota standards? Absolutely.
Is my annual salary comparable to other faculty members of my education, experience, and stature at institutions at NDSU’s level? Not really.
Am I complaining? Not so much.
Of course, I would like to see NDSU be able to pay competitive salaries to faculty so that the university can compete for and keep quality faculty…I think it is a fair request for Dr. Bresciani to make and as a faculty member I appreciate it. But make no mistake folks, the vast majority of teachers – from K-12 school districts to doctoral granting institutions – don’t do it for the income. It’s all about the outcomes.
Day one thousand and twenty-four of te new forty – obla di obla da