GVSU faculty salaries rank lower than average

Audra Gamble

According to a recently released survey by the American Association of University Professors, Grand Valley State University’s full-time professors are paid an average of $96,800.

Among the 14 public universities in Michigan that participated in the survey, GVSU ranked 10th.

The University of Michigan Ann Arbor ranked first in the state, with an average salary of $156,900.

Nationally, the average increase of salaries from the 2012-2013 school year to the 2013-2014 was 2.2 percent. GVSU’s increase was slightly below that average, at 2 percent. The rate of 2.2 percent is slightly above the rate of inflation.

Professor Robert Hollister, the chairperson of the Faculty Salary and Budget Committee, is not surprised by GVSU’s position on the list.

“Our raise last year was 2 percent, a little bit lower than the average,” Hollister said. “Grand Valley used to be in the middle of the pack for Michigan schools, and we’ve fallen to the bottom in the last decade.”

Hollister attested the low placement on the list to a low raise rate the previous year. He also attributed it to the growing size of GVSU.

“Grand Valley grew a lot, and the state funding has nothing to do with how many students you got,” he said. “Western and Central, they’ve had some declines in student enrollment, but their state appropriations stay the same. They get more money per student now. It’s hard for the state to keep pace with the growth of Grand Valley.”

However, Hollister is well-aware that low pay raises are not just a problem at GVSU.

“If you just look at the headlines of the reports, there isn’t one that says ‘Great year for faculty,’” he said. “This isn’t just faculty salaries, it’s middle-class salaries in general. That’s a national headline.”

GVSU receives approximately 20 percent of its funding from the state of Mich., and the growing student body stretches the budget thinner than it used to.

Joe Godwin, associate vice president for academic affairs has another explanation for the lower-than-average salaries.

”Nationwide, research-intensive universities tend to be supported at a higher level and pay higher salaries than teaching oriented, Master’s-comprehensive universities such as Grand Valley,” Godwin said. “We would not expect our salaries to be comparable to U of M, MSU, WSU or Michigan Tech.”

However, Godwin recognizes that GVSU salaries do lag behind other Mich. universities.

“There are some academic disciplines where we compare very well with the rest of the state’s universities,” Godwin said. “There are also some disciplines where our pay levels may have lagged behind other universities.”

Though the salaries of GVSU professors are lower than the state average for a public university, Hollister is sure that the administration is mindful of the value of GVSU faculty members.

“While our salaries have fallen across the board, student performance has increased,” Hollister said. “There’s a real awareness that faculty salaries have to be near the average or above, because we’re more than an average school. They’re trying to make gains now to get back to the mean.”

“Faculty drives much of what happens at the university. I’m hopeful that in the next couple years that investment will be made by the administration. They’ve said they want to make that investment too.”

Godwin agreed.

“We are hopeful that we can also improve our ranking to be higher than 10th place,” he said. “Grand Valley’s performance on many of the metrics identified by the state has been amongst the best in the state.

“That performance is due to the hard work of our faculty and I think they should be recognized for their efforts with pay levels that reflect their hard work.”

To view the entire report from the AAUP, visit www.aaup.org/reports-publications/2013-14salarysurvey.

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