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Determining professors’ paychecks

Every year students help decide which professors make tenure, get a pay raise or get promoted when they fill out evaluations at the end of each semester.

“We determine their salary on a merit system, and those evaluations are part of the process. We look at their teaching, service and research when making a decision,” said Rodney Rodgers, dean of the College of Business Administration.

“We even do peer reviews. Other faculty will sit in someone’s class and observe how they teach,” Rodgers said.

Roger Thibault, associate dean of arts and sciences, said evaluating a professor is an annual process, and is crucial in determining who gets a pay raise.

As teachers gain tenure and get promoted, they become eligible for larger raises. Departments also try to keep in mind market equity adjustments and reflect pay raises accordingly, Thibault said.

But not all professors receive the same level of pay, said Alden Craddock, professor and member of the faculty welfare committee. Some colleges in the University get paid more. A professor in human development or arts and sciences will make less than a professor in economics or accounting, he said.

An associate professor in accounting makes $109,815 a year compared to $57,679 a year that an associate professor in ethnic studies makes.

The reason for the difference is attributed to supply and demand, Rodgers said. Someone with an accounting degree will make a lot more in the private market working for a bank than someone with an ethnic studies degree, and therefore that person will require a higher salary to attract them to take a job as a professor, he said.

When his department is trying to hire a new professor, they are often competing against the private market and other universities, and they have to keep that in mind when making a competitive offer, Rodgers said.

“We are currently working on hiring a professor who is looking at another university on the East Coast and one in Texas,” he said.

When making an offer, Rodgers tries to keep in mind that Bowling Green has a lower standard of living than many urban schools, and that is reflected in an offer.

But even the highest paid professors, new or old, at the University tend to be behind their peers from other Ohio universities. BGSU tends to be in the bottom third of all public schools for salaries, even with one of the highest tuition rates, Craddock said.

With an average of $74,242, the University of Toledo ranked first for associate professor salaries. BGSU was ninth out of 15 schools, paying $64,720.

But many professors do not teach for the salary, said Mary Ellen Benedict, an economics professor.

“There is always a small pool of people who are willing to teach. You choose among a variety of benefits when choosing a job, and for some people, the work environment, working with students, the flexibility, are all intangible benefits that outweigh a different job,” she said. “I get excited when I teach a course that I can get students to get excited about. That’s a very rewarding aspect of my time.”

Professors with a passion to teach are the kind of people that Rodgers wants to bring into his department and keep.

“As the gap between the private industry and University pay grows, it gets harder and harder to get and keep people,” he said.

But as the University’s enrollment drops, it gets harder to pay professors more.

“Tuition is where a significant amount of money for salaries comes from, and with a tuition freeze, it makes it even harder,” Craddock said. “But with higher tuition you get lower enrollment.”

One way the business department is trying to increase its salaries is through outside sources.

“A lot of it is relying more and more on the alumni base and their philanthropy until a sustainable model can be created,” Rodgers said.

In the meantime, many departments will continue to offer the best education possible by hiring the people that want to be here, despite a smaller paycheck.

“They choose to teach. The opportunity to help teach and develop new talent, that’s their compensation in another way.”

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