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Iowa university faculty pay lags

Presidential compensation outpaces national averages

People walk along the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on the campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
People walk along the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on the campus of the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

Faculty members at all three public universities in Iowa saw pay raises this year, but those increases — for the most part — were below recent annual bumps.

University of Northern Iowa saw the highest average salary increase for faculty in the 2015-2016 academic year at 2.5 percent. University of Iowa and Iowa State University, meanwhile, reported average faculty raises of 1.9 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively, according to a Board of Regents report made public Tuesday.

But those increases for UI and ISU faculty were the lowest in at least five years. Iowa State faculty saw an average pay raise of 3.45 percent last year, when UI faculty saw an average increase of 2.2 percent.

UNI’s average increase in faculty pay this year was above 2015 and 2014 levels but below the 3.5 percent raise those employees saw in 2013. And none of this year’s increases did much to improve the institutions’ standing among peer institutions.

Meanwhile, presidential salaries at all three public universities topped national averages for similar institutions, according to a new American Association of University Professors report.

For public doctoral-degree issuing institutions — like University of Iowa and Iowa State University — the average presidential salary for the current year is $455,806, with the lowest at $68,000 and the highest nearing $1 million, according to the AAUP report.

UI President Bruce Harreld in his first year is making $590,000 — with a five-year deferred compensation plan that contributes $200,000 annually. ISU President Steven Leath this year is making $525,000 — with a five-year deferred compensation plan paying $125,000 a year.

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UNI President William Ruud is making $357,110, with a two-year deferred compensation plan paying $75,000 a year. The AAUP report shows average salaries for public schools like UNI — where master’s degrees are the highest issued — is $272,739.

When comparing presidential salaries with professor pay, the AAUP report shows presidents at public doctoral-degree universities on average make 3.6 times more than professors. Harreld’s salary is 4.3 times higher than the average UI professor, and Leath’s salary is 2.4 times higher than the average ISU professor, according to John Barnshaw, senior higher education researcher for the AAUP.

Presidential pay for public master’s degree-issuing schools on average is 2.9 times higher than professor pay. Ruud’s salary is 2.6 times higher than the average UNI professor, according to the AAUP.

This year’s nearly 2 percent raise for UI faculty members — including professors, associate professors, and assistant professors — brings the average salary from $106,078 to $108,200. That ranks it second from the bottom among peer institutions like the universities of Michigan, Illinois, and Texas.

Faculty salary averages for both ISU and UNI rank third from the bottom among their peer institutions, according to regent documents. According to a ranking of 56 Association of American Universities public and private institutions, those averages put UI at No. 45 and ISU at No. 51.

UI President Harreld has championed the issue of faculty pay since starting Nov. 2, asking lawmakers to provide his institution an additional $4.5 million in state appropriations to be used solely for improving compensation.

And even though lawmakers have indicated appropriations won’t come close to the more than $20 million total requested for the Board of Regents’ three universities, Harreld has said faculty pay remains a priority. In developing the coming year’s budget, Harreld has given his college deans and department heads freedom to propose allocations within their divisions.

“We have handed them their resources and said, ‘Go think about the right way to spend that,’” Harreld said. “It’s different for each college. Some have very significant faculty salary gaps relative to their peer group. Others don’t.”

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But, he said, the university has asked them to “surgically” devise the best way to “use the money wisely.”

“Now, is there enough money? No,” he said. “We’re going to have to make some choices.”

The new regent salary report came one day after the American Association of University Professors released its annual compensation report showing inflation-adjusted full-time faculty salaries increased 2.7 percent from 2014-15 to 2015-16 — higher than at all of Iowa’s public universities.

That report showed the average salary for professors at public institutions offering doctoral degrees was $125,833 this year. Professors at doctoral-degree issuing institutions in the New England region are paid the most — at an average of $160,031, according to the report, while professors at those schools in the mountain west region are paid the least — at an average of $117,915.

Professors in the west north central region, which includes Iowa, earn the second lowest average salary at $120,696.

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