Chicago Professor Raises Less Than Their National Peers

Wojtek Warias

Prof Pay info graphic

According to an annual study by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), many Chicago area colleges and university professors fell behind the national average in salary by 2.2 percent for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The AAUP’s study shows that very few academic institutions recorded raises for their faculty, with some of the exceptions being Chicago State University (CSU), Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), Northwestern University (NU), and the University of Chicago (U of C). CSU had the highest increase in salary with 9.6 percent, while NEIU with 4.6 percent, NU with 3.9 percent and UIC with 4.7 percent.

According to an article from April 7, 2014 in Chicago Sun-Times, NEIU’s spokeswoman, Erika Krehbiel, explained that the increase in professor salary resulted partly from promotions and a collective bargaining agreement. She added that NEIU’s goal is to keep the university’s salaries competitive with the market.

Jeremy Manier, a spokesman for U of C issued a statement saying, “Since its founding, the university has sought to bring together many of the world’s greatest scholars for transformative research and education. Sustaining that ambition requires significant resources, which the university and our supporters consider an important investment.”

While the aforementioned universities saw raises, other institutions like Governors State University (GSU) suffered a 3.8 percent drop in salaries and Loyola University Chicago (LUC) had a slightly lower 3 percent drop.

GSU President, Elaine P. Maimon, said that the decrease reflects “several long-serving senior professors retired or resigned and were replaced by assistant or associate professors earning starting-level salaries.”

LUC provost, John Pelissero, similarly explained the university’s decrease by stating that the date used to give faculty salary increases was changed from Jan. 1 to July 1. One of the deciding factors in faculty salary increases is dependent on fall enrollment meeting university expectations.

Though a few universities saw increases in salaries, there is a clear difference across Chicago schools. In comparison, NEIU professors have some of the lowest salaries of the universities on the list. According to Glassdoor salary lists most NEIU professors make between $50,000 to $60,000 annually with Marketing, Computer Science and Accounting professors being the exceptions.

In comparison to UIC or NU professors, the differences can be staggering. UIC’s average professor salary is $98,000 and NU’s is $150,000. The amount paid ranges from title and department but the differences in similar title and department are continuous between universities.

The universities that saw drops in salary percentages still manage to earn more than the average NEIU professor as well. GSU professors make an average of $75,000 annually while LUC professors make a rough estimate of $86,000 a year.

In the previously mentioned Sun-Times article, the director of research and public policy, John W. Curtis, at the AAUP also gave insight to reasons why this may have been happening, as well as facts about certain university spending trends. Curtis stated that the average national 2.2 increase in professor salary was the first time in five years that the pay had risen above inflation level.

Curtis said, “That’s because colleges and universities are starting to recover from the recession and are giving slightly more money toward faculty salaries. Salary increases haven’t yet rebounded to pre-recession levels, however, he said, pointing to a 3.4 increase in average salary reported in 2008-2009 from the previous year.”

Curtis, while not providing any direct long-term reform suggestions, urged that universities need to readjust their spending habits citing that certain universities spend increasingly more on programs that do not profit them directly such as athletics and high-tech dorms.