Faculty Feel Impact of Covid Pandemic

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has issued the findings of its annual Faculty Compensation Survey and the picture is not pretty.

“The survey found that real wages for full-time faculty decreased for the first time since the Great Recession, and average wage growth for all ranks of full-time faculty was the lowest since the AAUP began tracking annual wage growth in 1972. After adjusting for inflation, real wages decreased at over two-thirds of colleges and universities. The number of full-time faculty decreased at over half of institutions,” according to the AAUP.

The decrease in real wages for full-time faculty members is particularly alarming, since it suggests the direct impact of the defunding of higher education in the United States (especially at state universities).

There are fewer and fewer professors at universities and colleges, as more part-time instructors are being employed in adjunct and temporary positions. The full-time professors who are still employed at universities and colleges are earning less.

The AAUP provides details on its survey methodology: “Data collection for the AAUP’s 2020–21 Faculty Compensation Survey concluded in March, with 929 US colleges and universities providing employment data for nearly 380,000 full-time faculty members as well as senior administrators at nearly 600 institutions. In addition to full-time faculty employment data, institutions reported data for over 100,000 part-time faculty members who were employed in the prior academic year (2019–20). Data on part-time faculty were collected for the prior academic year, 2019–20, to ensure that institutions could provide complete data records.”

This year’s Faculty Compensation Survey tracked the usual salary data, but also has some additional features from previous years: “To understand the ways in which institutions responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAUP also asked participating institutions to identify how many faculty members–both tenure-line and non-tenure-track–were impacted by actions taken by institutions. US colleges and universities have taken a wide range of actions in response to financial difficulties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when many institutions were already struggling to balance their budgets, many lowered their expenditures by implementing hiring freezes, salary cuts, fringe benefit cuts, furloughs, and layoffs. The results of the AAUP’s 2020–21 Faculty Compensation Survey highlight the prevalence of such actions and how they have affected faculty members.”

For the full Faculty Compensation Survey, see the AAUP website.

For broader context on faculty members’ status within higher education institutions, see Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). The book description is available at the Oxford University Press website.

Benjamin Ginsberg offered a book talk in 2014 on the GBH Forum Network, available on YouTube. The online publication Inside Higher Ed interviewed Benjamin Ginsberg about the book in 2011.

This entry was posted in Academic Freedom, Education Policy, Humanities Education. Bookmark the permalink.

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