Monday, January 7, 2008

“Astounding Ignorance” of Faculty Salaries" --Sherman Dorn

[The United Faculty of Florida includes academic librarians.]

On Saturday night [1/5/08], Charlie Gibson, the ABC anchor, was introducing a question in the Democratic presidential debate about proposed tax increases for wealthy Americans and his example of those who might be affected: college professors at a lberal arts college.“If you take a family of two professors here at Saint Anselm, they’re going to be in the $200,000 category that you’re talking about lifting the taxes on,” Gibson said. (The exchange comes toward the end of the debate, a transcript of which is available from The New York Times.)

The audience at Saint Anselm College laughed, and the three leading candidates for the Democratic nomination suggested that Gibson was off on his estimates

Sherman Dorn wasn’t laughing — because two full professors at Saint Anselm, not to mention most academics — don’t earn enough to be a decent example for the impact of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Dorn is a blogger about education policy and is president of the University of South Florida’s faculty union (affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association).

Dorn checked the annual data compiled by the American Association of University Professors and found that the average salary for a full professor at Saint Anselm is just over $77,000 while the average for assistant professors is under $50,000. Dorn said in an e-mail that the question showed “astounding ignorance” of faculty salaries.

“I’m sure that St. Anselm faculty fantasize about salaries that Charles Gibson assumed were the case,” said Dorn. “This is one more case of a television journalist making false assumptions about higher education.” He noted that the average salary for full-time professors nationally is about $73,000 in the AAUP survey, and that only about half of all professors nationwide have full-time faculty jobs. “The truth is that most college professors are underpaid for their education and the work they do.”

For more on Dorn's analysis see USF faculty raises slip dramatically.

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