Study finds salary gaps in UT system

Study finds salary gaps in UT system

November 6th, 2011 by Perla Trevizo in News


• The Compensation and Benefits Market Assessment was conducted by a nationally recognized human resources consulting firm in July to identify gaps in pay and benefits offered to faculty and staff.

• The assessment was based on identifying institutions and/or organizations that UT recruits talent from, loses talent to or competes with for talent.

• For senior administrators and faculty, the most important considerations are similar size and type of institution and higher education.

• For midlevel professionals and nonexempt staff, the most important consideration is geographic location. Somewhat important is the similar size and type of institution.

Source: University of Tennessee


Faculty salary percentage of the market median:

• University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: 94 percent

• University of Tennessee Health Science Center: 87 percent

• University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture: 89 percent

• University of Tennessee, Knoxville/UT Space Institute: 84 percent

• University of Tennessee at Martin: 90 percent

• Total: 87 percent

Staff salary percentage of the market median

• University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: 78 percent

• University of Tennessee Health Science Center: 80 percent

• University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture: 81 percent

• UT Institute for Public Service: 86 percent

• University of Tennessee, Knoxville/UT Space Institute: 74 percent

• University of Tennessee at Martin: 77 percent

• University-wide administration: 82 percent

• Total: 78 percent

Source: University of Tennessee, Compensation and Benefits Market Assessment

UTC is putting together a committee to review preliminary results of a systemwide compensation study that found a gap between what the university pays faculty and staff and the pay at similar institutions, school officials said.

Over the summer, the University of Tennessee commissioned a compensation and benefits market assessment to determine where faculty and staff statewide stood compared to their peer colleges, universities and organizations.

The study found that pay for UTC faculty is closer to what it called the "market median" than any other campus in the UT system and exceeds the system average.

Average annual salary for faculty at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ranges from nearly $56,000 to more than $84,000 before longevity bonuses and came in at 94 percent of the market median. Statewide, annual faculty salary was 87 percent of the median.

UTC staff didn't fare as well, with average annual staff pay coming at 78 percent of the median, according to preliminary results of the study. That matches the statewide UT system average.

Richard Brown, vice chancellor of finance and operations at UTC, said it's important to look at compensation because human capital investment is critical.

"Colleges and universities, as good as they can be in terms of curriculum design and technology, we get things done through bright and talented people," he said. "Seventy to 75 percent of the financial resources, we spend it with people."

In the end, he said, the quality of the degree will be determined by the quality of the faculty the school attracts.

A professor makes on average $84,134 at UTC before longevity bonuses, money given for length of service to the school. Professors make up about 35 percent of the 394-member UTC faculty.

That compares with an average $103,700 salary for full-time professors nationwide at degree-granting postsecondary institutions in 2009-10, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

UTC's average base pay for an associate professor is $66,287, and $55,790 for an assistant professor. The salaries don't include 12-month personnel who may hold faculty rank, such as academic department heads, said UTC spokesman Chuck Cantrell.

Associate professors make up about 24 percent of the UTC faculty, while assistant professors are nearly 20 percent.

Nationwide, the average salary for full-time faculty in 2009-10 was $74,600, with a range of $55,600 for instructors, lecturers and other faculty without academic rank to more than $103,000 for professors, according to the federal education department.

UTC also has 547 full-time staff members, which include any regular employee not classified as faculty. Their pay ranges from $8.50 an hour for entry-level employees to $225,495 last year for the UTC chancellor.

"The preliminary results kind of said the things we thought it would say, even though we don't fully understand all the data yet," said Brown. "From a broad, helicopter view, we knew there were gaps in compensation on every [UT system] campus. How valid and how large those gaps are we are going to have to take a look at that."

Campuses were compared in the study against schools that have similar missions and program designs, he said. UTC's comparisons were made with plans to become a top five master's institution in mind.

Brown said the UT system is still in the initial stages of examining the data and, over the next six months, every campus will put together a review team to look into the data and evaluate best practices.

The system also will examine turnover rates to determine how many employees are lost to better-paying institutions, whether raises are needed to reduce turnover and, if so, how to pay for them.

Schools will present their plans during the June board of trustees meeting, said Brown, who also is chairman of the system's compensation and advisory board.

UT President Joe DiPietro has made fair compensation for the system's employees a priority.

This year, university system staff and faculty received a 3 percent across-the-board raise. It was their first since July 1, 2007.

The system also increased the minimum starting rate to $8.50 an hour for staff, a move DiPietro called the first step in a long-term process to address university pay.

As a result, the system's salaries and benefits expenditures increased by 4.2 percent, or $48 million, from fiscal year 2010 to 2011. That represents 48 percent of total expenditures.

Despite the preliminary results that show a gap in pay, DiPietro said the system offers good benefits.

"When you consider benefits such as health insurance, retirement, tuition assistance, time off and long-term disability, we do well," he said in a news release.