From staff reports
Ohio University faculty compensation became more competitive at the state level, while experiencing modest changes relative to the university's designated peer institutions, according to the Office of Institutional Research's latest Ohio University Faculty Salary Study.
The study, which incorporates benchmarks recommended in the 2007 Faculty Compensation Task Force Report, measures the average salaries and compensation of Ohio University's tenure-track faculty -- assistant, associate and full professors -- against those of other Ohio public universities and the university's 10 peer institutions. It reflects the first $1.2 million investment of a five-year Vision OHIO commitment to improve the competitiveness of faculty compensation. The goal is to move faculty compensation to the next quartile among the peer institutions by the 2011-12 academic year.
"One of the important commitments that we made during the Vision OHIO process was to boost the salaries of full-time faculty who are making significant contributions to the teaching and research missions of the university," Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl said. "Based on the recommendations of faculty, chairs, directors and deans who served on the Faculty Compensation Task Force, we began last year to direct resources into the multi-year project of meeting our goal for faculty salaries. This investment was the very first investment of base funding tied to Vision OHIO goals."
The first year of the investment produced only a small shift -- at the assistant professor level -- in the university's ranking among peer institutions for average faculty salaries. In comparing those salaries with the university's designated peer institutions, Ohio University ranks 10th out of 11 in the categories of full professors, associate professors and assistant professors. At the assistant professor rank, Ohio University moved from 11th to 10th, but the other ranks remained the same as the year before.
In comparisons of average overall compensation (salaries and benefits), however, Ohio University moved from ninth to eighth among the peer institutions when considering all ranks of faculty.
"Our peer institutions are a mix of actual and aspirational peers," noted John Day, associate provost for academic budget and planning. An institution such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, widely considered one of the best public universities in the nation, is among institutions on the list. "Aspirational peers are just that. We do not expect to match their profile, but we can always learn from them and aspire to reach their level in at least some areas."
Krendl said the lack of movement compared to peer institutions did not surprise her.
"It wasn't anticipated that the first $1.2 million would propel us very far when it came to the peer institutions," she said. "But I am encouraged that our compensation ranking improved, moving us ahead of Clemson -- which was ranked above us last year -- and that we saw a small shift upwards at the assistant professor level."
In comparing average faculty salaries at state universities in Ohio from last academic year to this one, Ohio University's professor rank moved from seventh to sixth; the associate professor rank climbed from fifth to third; and the assistant professor rank rose from seventh to fifth. With all ranks combined, the university maintained its position of fourth among state institutions.
Improvements in average compensation also were seen in comparisons between Ohio University and other state institutions. The Faculty Salary Study reports that Ohio University moved from seventh to fifth at the professor level; from fifth to third at the associate professor level; from sixth to fourth at the assistant professor level; and from fifth to fourth for all ranks combined.
Chuck McWeeny, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said he is pleased to see the university making gains in Ohio.
"I'm thrilled that we have been able to successfully improve our salary competitiveness in the state," McWeeny said. "The arts at Ohio University have a national reputation, and the Vision OHIO compensation initiative will help us compete for faculty with other Ohio institutions and with our peers."
The combined $1.2 million and 3 percent raise pool resulted in a faculty salary increase of 5.8 percent for continuing Ohio University faculty from last year to this year. That was the second-highest in Ohio and put the university about in the middle of its national peers for increases. A similar percentage increase will take place during the upcoming academic year.
"The study shows that we are making a larger investment in our faculty salaries than many of our peer institutions, but we have known from the outset that meeting our peer goal will require time and patience," Krendl said.
In constructing the study, the Office of Institutional Research worked to account for the many variables that influence faculty pay.
"We use the national AAUP (American Association of University Professors) faculty salary study as the comparative basis for this study," said Mike Williford, associate provost for institutional research and assessment. "In addition, we examine variables related to compensation, such as academic rank, disciplinary differences and fringe benefit components. Over the years, we've looked at effects of inflation, years of service, the effect of our early retirement program and cost of living in different locations. Comparing compensation among universities as diverse as these is very complicated."
A copy of the 2007-08 Ohio University Faculty Salary Study can be found at the Institutional Research Web site.