SENATE COMMITTEE ON FACULTY BENEFITS
2016–2017 Report on Faculty Salaries
The Report on Faculty Salaries is an informational report of the Committee on Faculty Benefits offering an analysis of faculty salaries at Penn State. The report is accompanied by a set of tables and figures provided by the Department of Planning and Institutional Research (PIR), with thanks to the College of Medicine, the University Budget Office, and the University Libraries for providing data. This report highlights several observations that may be of interest to the general audience of the University Faculty Senate. More detail is available in the supporting materials including comparisons with other institutions and comparisons among the colleges and campuses within Penn State. The supporting materials are available to senators on Box at https://psu.app.box.com/files/0/f/3589773215/Senate_Faculty_Salary_reports. Anyone else who is interested in the supporting materials can contact PIR@psu.edu for a copy of the tables.
There are many factors that may contribute to differences in salary statistics making it difficult to draw inferences from these data. Market forces, non-monetary compensation and benefits, and cost of living differences are often not reflected in the data. Comparisons across institutions or across units within institutions can be complicated by unequal distributions in key dimensions such as discipline, rank, length of time in rank, and length of employment. The data presented here may be limited and may not provide sufficient detail for drawing inferences about important issues pertaining to faculty compensation such as gender or racial inequities. However, these data may be useful for informing discussion and prompting further inquiry. The Committee on Faculty Benefits encourages the members of the faculty at Penn State to use these data as a reference.
Comparisons to Other Institutions
Salaries among faculty in Penn State’s University Park–based colleges continue to be competitive with comparable salaries among institutions participating in the Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE). For the most recent year, 2015–2016, the ratio of Penn State salaries to AAUDE salaries is within 3 percent of the AAUDE average salary for 31% of the college/rank comparisons. Penn State salaries are more than 3 percent above the AAUDE average salary for 67% of the college/rank comparisons. The highest ratio among all the college/rank comparisons is 1.30 for professors in the College of Communications. The lowest ratio is 0.91 for professors at Penn State Law (Table 1). The ratios of Penn State to AAUDE salaries presented in Table 1 are consistent with last year. For 92% of the college/rank comparisons, the ratio in 2015-16 is within 3 percent of the same ratio in 2014-15.
Penn State’s salary progression is similar to that at AAUDE institutions (Table 2). For 75% of college/rank comparisons for associate professors and 80% of comparisons for assistant professors, the percentage of professor salary at Penn State is within 5 percent of comparable AAUDE institutions. Average associate professor salaries range from 56-81% of professors, while average assistant professor salaries range from 51-75% of professors.
The cumulative percent changes presented in Table 3 show that average salaries at Penn State and AAUDE institutions tended to increase in 2014-15, and at a similar rate. A current listing of the Association of American Universities (AAU) member institutions can be found in Table 5.
The data show a fairly steady increase in terms of raw dollar value (Figure 1 and Figure 2), with the increases appearing to be keeping pace with inflation (Figure 3 and Figure 4). Among a group of select AAUDE public institutions, Penn State has maintained a competitive ranking (Table 4). Penn State’s salaries rank 3rd among professors, 4th among associate professors, and 6th among assistant professors. This is a big improvement over just a few years ago, where in 2011-12 the ranks were 9th, 8th, and 13th, respectively.
Among the group of Big Ten public institutions, Penn State’s average salaries have been ranked in the top consistently over recent years (Table 4). The average salary for professors and for associate professors has been among the top in the Big Ten public institutions since at least the 2004–05 academic year. Historically, Penn State’s average salary for assistant professors has not been as highly ranked. In 2015-16, however, the average salary for assistant professors ranks 4th, showing an improvement from a dip in ranking between the years 2006-07 through 2011-12. Table 6 provides another look at salaries at Penn State University Park compared to other Big Ten institutions, where Penn State is in the top 50% of average salaries across all ranks.
Salaries in Penn State’s campus-based colleges seem to rank in the middle among campuses at other Big Ten institutions (Table 7). When compared with campuses of the same type, salaries at Penn State’s campus-based colleges appear to be higher than campuses at other Big Ten institutions. These differences may reflect regional differences as Penn State’s average salaries appear to be below the average salaries at other universities in Pennsylvania (Table 8), including the other state-related and state-owned universities.
Salaries for Penn State’s librarian faculty rank competitively compared to their peers at other institutions in the Big Ten (Table 9). Penn State’s average librarian salary ranks fourth among institutions in the Big Ten. Penn State salaries are above average for associate and assistant librarians, and below average for affiliate librarians, among institutions in the Big Ten.
Comparisons within Penn State
Among Penn State University Park–based colleges, the faculty in the Smeal College of Business have the highest salaries followed by the faculty in the College of Information Sciences and Technology and Penn State Law. Faculty in the College of Arts & Architecture have the lowest salaries among the Penn State University Park–based colleges. Of all the units with faculty, the University Libraries have the lowest salaries (Table 11).
Variation in range of salaries seems to increase with each higher rank (Table 10 and Table 11). This increase in variation is apparent when the data are displayed graphically (Figure 1, Figure 5, Figure 6, and Figure 7). The interquartile range (IQR)—the difference between the 75th and 25th percentiles—is typically greatest for professors. For instance, the IQR for standing appointment professors at Penn State University Park is $54, 648. The IQR for standing appointment assistant professors at Penn State University Park is $15,795. The mean years in rank also increases with each higher rank, which may account for some of the variation in salary. While there is some increase in variation with each higher rank among the salaries at the Commonwealth Campuses, the IQR for standing appointment professors at the Commonwealth Campuses tends to be much narrower at $24,723. The IQR for standing appointment assistant professors is slightly wider at $17,019.
With the exception of Instructor/Lecturers, median salaries for faculty on standing appointments at Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses are lower overall than median salaries for the same academic rank at University Park (Table 10). This pattern appears to also be true when comparing the median salaries in the academic divisions within the campus-based colleges (Table 14), with median salaries in colleges of similar disciplinary composition at University Park (Table 11). For faculty on fixed-term appointments, the differences in median salaries does not show as definitive of a trend. For example, the median salary for fixed-term associate professors and assistant professors is higher at the Commonwealth Campuses than at University Park (Table 10).
Table 15 provides average salaries for professors and associate professors in standing appointments aggregated based on time in rank. For professors at University Park, generally as years in rank increase, average salary also increases. For associate professors at University Park, average salary decreases as years in rank increase. For faculty at the Commonwealth Campuses, there are no clear trends between years in rank and average salary. Caution should be used in interpreting any of these trends, since average salary is influenced heavily by outliers and since data is aggregated across many units.
Summary information is provided in Table 16 for individuals classified as “academic” or “academic administrators” on standing appointments. Academic administrators are those who hold academic rank and who hold an administrative position in a major academic function (e.g. Associate Dean, Assistant Dean). Academic administrators make up approximately 60% of the administration, where the administration is comprised of academic administrators, administrators, and executives. Generally speaking, the salaries for academic administrators are higher than those of academics.
Salary data for Penn State Hershey is presented in Table 17. This presents quartile distributions of salaries of full-time basic science faculty and clinical faculty broken down by rank, and presented alongside Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) salary percentiles. For basic science faculty, the Penn State data is also broken out by gender. Overall, Penn State salaries appear to be comparable with the standards in the field.
Tables 12 and 13 provide the salary quartiles by gender. At the highest levels of aggregation found in Table 12, the salaries for females are lower than those of males in most cases. These results should be interpreted with caution, however, as the male faculty members typically have higher mean years in rank and the level of aggregation does not take into consideration disproportionate representation among colleges and departments. Table 13 provides the salary quartiles by gender at the college level. At this level, the difference in salaries between females and males seems to diminish within units. Graphically, many of the salary ranges by gender seem to overlap with their college counterparts (Figures 5-9). Where differences do exist, the higher salary range often coincides with higher mean years in rank. Further differentiation, by department and/or academic discipline for example, may explain some of the remaining differences. However, the data become sparser with each additional dimension. Already at the college level there are data elements that must be suppressed due to a low number of individuals. Further differentiation would only increase the amount of data that must be suppressed.
The phrase “fixed-term” is commonly used when referring to individuals on fixed-term appointments with an academic rank of instructor or lecturer. This is understandable as more than 66% of the individuals on fixed-term academic appointments have an academic rank of instructor, lecturer, senior instructor, or senior lecturer and approximately 96% of the individuals holding those ranks are on fixed-term appointments (Table 10). However, it should be noted that under the University’s human resources structure, an individual’s academic rank and their appointment type are separate and distinct. There exist individuals on fixed-term appointments holding nearly every possible academic rank.
Our discussion of fixed-term faculty is limited specifically to the population of individuals on full-time, fixed-term appointments holding an academic rank of instructor, lecturer, senior instructor, or senior lecturer. Even looking solely at this population, there are cautions to note. For instance, there are 318 individuals from this population in the College of the Liberal Arts alone (Table 11). With nearly 40% of the population coming from just one college, it may be difficult to discern whether any conclusions drawn from the data reflect the University-wide population or are attributable to circumstances that exist solely within that one college.
Nearly 50% of the fixed-term instructors, lecturers, senior instructors, and senior lecturers are located at the Penn State University Park location. As with standing appointment professorial salaries, the highest fixed-term instructor/lecturer salaries at University Park are found in the Smeal College of Business.
While the other Penn State campuses combined make up slightly less than half of the population of fixed-term instructors University-wide, the population of fixed-term instructors/lecturers is the largest category of faculty among the Commonwealth Campuses, where about 40% of all faculty are fixed-term instructors/lecturers or senior instructors/lecturers (Table 10).
Description of the Supporting Materials
The complete set of data accompanying this report consists of 17 tables and 9 figures. The tables may be considered in two major sections: the inter-institutional comparisons presented in Tables 1–9 and the intra-institutional comparisons presented in Tables 10–17. The figures are based on data from Tables 10–14 and may also be considered part of the intra-institutional comparisons. The inter-institutional comparisons in Tables 1–9 may be further divided according to the source of the data: the Association of American Universities Data Exchange, the American Association of University Professors, and the Association of Research Libraries.
Definition of salary
The salaries presented in the supporting tables reflect contract salary. These salary figures do not include additional or supplemental monies an individual may receive for activities such as summer teaching or extra assignments, or administrative stipends. The salary data also do not include fringe benefits such as the University’s contribution to the individual’s retirement plan, health insurance, or tuition discounts.
The salary data are defined on the basis of a 9-month (36-week) appointment. Unless otherwise noted, salaries for faculty members on 12-month (48-week) appointments are converted to a 9-month equivalent using a standard conversion factor of 0.818 (9/11).
Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE) Tables
The Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE) is an organization composed of Association of American Universities (AAU) institutions that contribute their institutional data to the data exchange. The AAU describes itself as “a nonprofit organization of 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada.” A recent listing of AAU member institutions is presented in Table 5. While all AAU institutions are eligible to participate in the data exchange, typically only between 50 and 60 percent of the member institutions will submit data to the AAUDE in any given year. The data available in the AAUDE are for an institution’s “main campus” only.
The AAUDE comparisons allow Penn State to benchmark our faculty salaries with other leading research institutions. Direct comparison to other institutions is not available as the confidentiality rules governing participation in the AAUDE prohibit individually identifying institutional data. However, the data may be useful for indicating Penn State’s relative position among the group of AAUDE institutions. Tables 1–3 present comparisons with averages based on all institutions reporting to the AAUDE in the given year. Table 4 uses the AAUDE data to present Penn State’s ranking among a select group of public institutions in the AAUDE and among the other public institutions of the Big Ten.
College level comparisons are possible using the AAUDE data because of Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code data available in the AAUDE data set. The CIP codes are a taxonomic scheme developed by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to support tracking and reporting of fields of study and program completion activity. The college level comparisons in Tables 1–3 compare each of Penn State’s colleges with a composite of equivalent CIP codes from other AAUDE institutions.
American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Tables
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) conducts an annual survey of faculty compensation, the Faculty Compensation Survey (FCS). The results of the FCS are published in the March–April issue of the AAUP magazine, Academe, as part of their Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession. The data from the FCS are used as the source for Tables 6–8. The availability of the FCS data permits direct inter-institutional comparisons. Table 6 presents Penn State’s average salaries ranked among the average salaries for the other institutions in the Big Ten.
While Table 6 only includes the “main campuses” for each institution, Table 7 and Table 8 present Penn State’s average salaries for University Park as well as for each of the campus-based colleges. Table 7 presents the average salaries at Penn State University Park and at each of the campus-based colleges ranked among the average salaries for other institutions in the Big Ten with satellite campuses. Table 8 focuses on more regional comparisons, presenting the average salaries for Penn State University Park and each of the campus-based colleges in comparison to other institutions in Pennsylvania including a composite of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institutions.
Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Tables
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a “nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries at comprehensive, research institutions in the United States and Canada that share similar research missions, aspirations, and achievements.” Through membership in the ARL, Penn State shares salary-related data for our librarian faculty. Table 9 presents Penn State’s librarian salaries in comparison to other institutions in the Big Ten. The ARL data are also aggregated with the AAUP data in Table 6, which also compares Penn State’s salaries with other institutions in the Big Ten.
Internal Data Tables
The intra-institutional comparisons are based on Penn State’s internal data sources. Tables 10–16 are based on a snapshot of the human resource database taken at the end of October 2016. These snapshot data are used for the University’s official reporting activities. The data used in Tables 10-15 include all individuals classified as “academic” with a full-time appointment type—standing, fixed-term I, or fixed-term multi-year. Table 16 additionally includes those individuals classified as “academic administrators.” Table 17 is provided by the Hershey Medical Center to provide information on average salaries for faculty at the Medical Center.
Tables 10–13 present salary quartiles and mean years in rank along a few key dimensions. Table 10 and Table 11 each present these data by rank within appointment type category—standing or fixed-term. Table 10 aggregates the data according to location category while Table 11 aggregates the data by college or unit for the faculty at Penn State University Park. Tables 12 and 13 expand the presentation in Tables 10 and 11, presenting the data by gender within rank and appointment type category. Table 12 aggregates the data according to location category. Table 13 presents the quartiles aggregated by college or unit for the faculty at Penn State University Park.
The salary quartiles for the campus-based colleges are presented in Table 14. Again, the data are presented by rank within appointment type category. The data are aggregated by college and by division or department within the college. Table 15 presents average salary for professors and associate professors at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses based on time in rank. Table 16 presents salary quartiles based on rank and employment classification for individuals classified as “academic” or “academic administrators” on standing appointments at University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses.
Changes to the Report from the Previous Year
This report, and the associated data tables, have been produced for several years. There are a few changes to this year’s report that regular consumers of this information should be aware of:
- Table 1, Table 2, Table 3, and Table 7: These tables no longer use 1995-96 as the base year for comparisons, but instead use a 5-year comparison by looking at 2010-11 as the base year.
- Table 4: This table no longer goes back to 1995-96 for comparisons, but instead provides 15 years of data, using 2001-02 as the first year presented.
- Table 17, which contains salary data for Penn State Hershey, was labeled as Table 15 in previous years.
- Figures 1-4 now present five years of data, and are labeled to reflect the timing of the underlying salary data, which is available during the fall semester.
Limitations of the Data
The supporting materials accompanying this report offer a number of different perspectives on faculty salaries. The data presented in the supporting materials are an attempt to provide as objective an analysis as possible. However, readers are cautioned to consider the limitations of these data before drawing any conclusions based on the data presented here.
Direct comparisons with other institutions can be difficult as organizations differ in structure. Often there are unequal proportions among one or more key factors such as rank, academic discipline, age, and years of experience. The use of the average as the reported statistic further complicates the comparison. The average is susceptible to the influence of extreme values in the population.
Comparisons based on internal data may seem to be an opportunity to exercise more control over the chosen statistic. Many of the supporting tables accompanying this report present salary quartiles, which are much less likely to be influenced by extreme values. But interpreting differences between percentiles can be more difficult than differences based on the average. Unequal proportions among the groupings within the organization could create paradoxical situations where conclusions based on data at one level of aggregation may not be supported at a finer level of detail.
The data presented in the supporting tables reflect the entire population. Therefore, any differences between groupings are actual differences and the statistical significance of the difference is not an issue. Before drawing any conclusions from those differences, readers are reminded that there are many factors that affect an individual’s salary. The data presented in the supporting tables reflect a few factors that seem most relevant to the interests of the Faculty Senate. Properly controlling for the number of factors known to affect an individual’s salary would require an analysis beyond the scope of this report. There are also factors such as market forces, non-monetary compensation and benefits, lifestyle choices, professional reputation, and individual personality that are not reflected in the data.
The data available in the tables accompanying this report present a number of perspectives on faculty salaries at Penn State. Despite these many perspectives, these data reflect a limited view of faculty compensation. While it can be difficult to draw inferences from these limited data, the Committee on Faculty Benefits hopes that these data can be useful in enabling Penn State’s faculty members to be better informed about their salary relative to their colleagues both within Penn State and at some of Penn State’s peer institutions.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON FACULTY BENEFITS
- Susan McGarry Basso
- Renee L. Borromeo, Chair
- Kenneth Brentner
- Victor W. Brunsden
- Amy R. Dietz
- Peter C. Jurs
- Cassandra Kitko
- James Miles
- Jamie Myers
- Willie K. Ofosu
- Erica Smithwick, Vice-Chair
- Gregory Stoner
 Administrative breakdowns were retrieved from the current employee table from the OHR database in March 2017. A count of active employees in standing positions at locations other than Hershey were used for this calculation. Back to Footnote #1 in Text