The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Minding the gap in professors’ salaries

Engineering, business lead in departmental pay
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There is a significant disparity in what SMU pays itsprofessors.

The university pays professors in some departments twice as muchas those in others, according to documents from the SMUprovost’s office.

For example, the 26 full professors in Meadows School of theArts have a median annual salary of approximately $76,000. Themedian annual salary of the 18 full professors in the Cox School ofBusiness is approximately $154,500.

This is not the only salary gap at SMU. University records showthat SMU pays professors less than those at so-called”benchmark” schools — universities that SMUaspires to emulate.

For example, a full professor at SMU makes $100,715 on average,while a full professor at the 12 benchmark schools makes $111,750on average. That means a full professor at the benchmark schoolmakes on average 11 percent more than a full professor at SMU.

Several professors said SMU must address this problem.

“We have got to do something significant aboutsalaries,” James Hopkins said, chairman of the HistoryDepartment. “SMU has to make it a real priority.”

Students are split on the question of whether SMU shouldcontinue to pay professors in some departments significantly morethan those in other departments.

David Garcia, a junior majoring in accounting, sees nothingwrong with paying business professors far more than those in otherdepartments.

“If anything, I think the business teachers shouldprobably be getting paid more,” he said. “They could bemaking money in a lot of other ways, as opposed to someone like ahistory professor, who can really only write or teach.”

Brendan Martin, a sophomore majoring in English, disagreed. Hequestioned whether it makes sense to pay business professors farmore than those in the liberal arts and social sciences.

“Maybe business teachers should be getting paid thismuch,” he said. “But should it be so much more than theother teachers?”

Officials in Cox defend the school’s salaries, pointing tothe competing forces that affect their hiring processes.

“We can’t get our faculty without offering highersalaries,” Elbert Greynolds, associate dean of undergraduateprograms at Cox, said. “To attract high-caliber businessprofessors from other top schools and from the outside businessworld, we need to offer market rates.”

Greynolds said the disparity remains wide because professors inthe liberal arts and social sciences do not have the financialopportunities that business professors do.

“They have been upset about this ever since I’vebeen here,” Greynolds said.

But for some professors teaching in the liberal arts and socialsciences, better financial opportunities do exist.

Craig Flournoy, assistant professor of journalism and a PulitzerPrize winner, makes $46,500 a year. That is two-thirds of hisannual salary at The Dallas Morning News when he left in 2000. Themedian salary of lecturers in Cox is almost $20,000 more thanFlournoy’s annual salary at SMU.

Camille Kraeplin, assistant professor of journalism, said sheearns $45,500 annually. “I could be earning substantiallymore as a newspaper editor,” she said.

Kraeplin said SMU is wrong to place a greater value on certaintypes of knowledge.

“Traditionally, a university environment is one in whichknowledge is valued for its own sake,” she said.”Clearly these huge salary disparities suggest that certaintypes of knowledge are much more valuable than others, perhapsthose that are valued most in the marketplace. This approach seemsmore appropriate for a trade school than a university.”

If teacher salaries remain low at SMU, it is likely going to behard to hire more accomplished faculty and retain the qualifiedfaculty members they already have. For that reason, the Board ofTrustees compares SMU teacher salaries to those at other privateuniversities in its annual report on the faculty’s economicstatus. This report, released by the Office of the Provost, showsthat there are two types of schools that SMU compares itself to,”operational” and “benchmark.”

“Operational schools are those with the same basicresources as us. Benchmark schools are those that we aspire to belike,” said Ellen Jackofsky, the associate provost forfaculty and administrative affairs.

The Board of Trustees’ report shows that SMU associateprofessors make an average of $67,589 annually compared to $76,658made annually by benchmark school associate professors.

Many professors believe the reason salaries in some departmentsare so low, and the disparity between salaries is so wide, isbecause the administration is putting too much emphasis on theconstruction of new buildings. They point to the $542 millionfundraising campaign SMU recently completed.

“We need more endowed chairs, better qualified faculty andmore research money,” Hopkins said. “That’s moreimportant than new buildings.”

SMU’s next fundraising campaign is supposed to alleviatethese problems by putting an emphasis on people and programs,according to President R. Gerald Turner. The campaign plans tofocus more on scholarships, endowed chairs, grant money and facultysalaries. However, the new campaign will not begin until 2005, andis not scheduled to be completed until SMU’s centennialcelebration in 2011.

It does not appear as if teacher salaries are going to undergo achange anytime soon.

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