Report Finds Low Pay, Job Security For College Faculty

Tim Goral's picture

If she had to choose her profession now, Hampden-Sydney College professor Saranna Thornton says, she probably wouldn’t follow her heart into higher education.

Thornton is co-author of the annual American Association of University Professors faculty salary report, being released today, that found some post-recession recovery but lingering symptoms of decline in academia.

For people working to complete their doctorates, Thornton said, the underlying message in the report is that “you should not plan on becoming a college professor.”

Nationwide, 76 percent of instructional appointments are filled by “contingent” faculty members not in line to gain the security of a tenured position — a temporary workforce that includes full- and part-time faculty members and graduate student teaching assistants.

The trend overshadows findings that salaries for full-time faculty members improved, if marginally, she said. Those who remained at the same institution as last year received average salary increases this year of 3.2 percent.

The AAUP survey of more than 1,100 colleges and universities included four schools in Virginia that have law schools with faculty members whose higher salaries skew the averages, she noted.

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