Talk about Salaries

The following is a post from an anonymous, nontenured author: 

We need to talk about salaries.

Last week the UW Regents approved a 3% pay raise for faculty for the next two years – the largest raise in many years. However, it’s difficult to be appreciative when so many of our colleagues have fallen inexcusably far behind the acceptable pay scale. Ray Cross claims that UW Madison faculty are underpaid by 10%;  assistant and associate professors in the humanities there typically earn between $70,000 and $100,000 per year. This appears to be Cross’s only concern: that these numbers are too small. But our new colleagues at UWM face much worse problems regarding their compensation.

Many new UWM faculty who have come to us via the merger with the UW Colleges faculty earn less than $50,000 a year. Their bump when promoted to Associate Professor with tenure is only around $1,500. For some context, an assistant manager at Kwik Trip with no required higher education can make $45,000 a year. This means we have hard-working faculty who have earned PhDs, teach a 4-4 load, engage in research–and could probably do better, financially, as gas station managers. What kind of signal does this send to our faculty? What kind of message does this send about higher education? 

Our new colleagues from the UW Colleges have long dealt with rock-bottom morale. We are told that when talk of raises would come up in their meetings, the prospect was always quickly shot down. Administrators for the Waukesha and Washington County campuses, however, each received a $20,000 bump in salary this year.

The problem is not a lack of money in the system. It’s that the money is constantly moved away from faculty and into new silos. How did the chancellors get their large pay bumps this last week? It came from leftover money from the UW Colleges that could have helped underpaid faculty. This double standard needs to end.

The UWM annual budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year is $689,165,710, with $243,334,769 going to salaries. The branch campuses bring in a combined budget of $4,136,764. The salary gap between our UWM faculty and the College of General Studies faculty could be fixed with around $1.2 million dollars. There is no excuse for such inequality among our colleagues. When chancellors get raises larger than many faculty salaries, it shows not only the arrogance of these administrators, but also their lack of interest in faculty compensation, retention, and morale.

Investing in the College of General Studies can only help UWM as a whole. These branches are feeding students into the Milwaukee campus. How can we expect them to advocate for us if they are treated so unfairly? Numerous faculty searches on our new branch campuses have failed because salaries and workload are nowhere near competitive. If we are to make the most of this merger, it is essential to invest in our colleagues. We must welcome the new faculty to the Panther family by treating them fairly–something the UW Colleges administration has failed to do.

Chronicle of Higher Education Data

UWM Faculty Salary Average:

Assistant: $73,300

Associate: $78,000

Professor: $101,448

UW Colleges Faculty Salary Average:

Assistant: $45,126

Associate: $51,084

Professor: $62,424