The Other Side: Working for Wes

We’re very focused on students here at Wesleying (“Real students, real student life at Wesleyan University”) but we can’t forget about our professors.  If my mother’s correct when she says, “Remember, you’re in school to get an education,” then professors should be the most important people here to us.

If you’ve ever read Tenured Radical, you can’t help but to feel for them, however.  Today, she asserted, “after almost two decades in which we have repeatedly been promised that Zenith (ed. note. Zenith is actually Wesleyan.  Tenured Radical avoids actually saying Wesleyan most of the time.) will do something about a compensation rate that lags far behind our peer institutions, one can’t help but feel that they have thrown in the towel without admitting that they have done so.”

From my own research (table after the bump), Wesleyan doesn’t do too poorly among NESCAC schools (I didn’t actually look at all liberal arts colleges).  Only our two Little Three buddies pay [full] professors more.  For associate professors, five out of the ten other schools pay more and one matches us.  For assistant professors, we are beat again by five out of the ten other schools (are we intentionally aiming at the middle here?).  Out of curiosity, I compared the salaries to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Undergraduate Teaching rankings for our category, but didn’t get much of a correlation out of it.

Either way, the Tenured Radical does paint a pretty dire picture of what it’s like to work for Wesleyan:

At street level, things are horrendously disorganized, and you have to make a special call to get someone to vacuum your office.  We have not received a raise that was not instantly swallowed by the increased cost of our benefits.  In real dollars, our pay is static and losing traction; research and conference dollars tend not to meet expenses incurred.

[…] Furthermore, everyone who works for the university is being asked to accept cuts in compensation so that the university can build endowments to pay for unlimited student financial aid and shave a percentage point off next year’s tuition increase.  This will make us the second or third most expensive liberal arts school in the nation, as opposed to the most expensive.

At the heart of her conclusion is a great point though: professors rarely use the landline phones in their offices.  I for one have never seen a faculty member (or student) make/take an off campus call on a university landline.  Maybe there could be central locations for faculty to use university landlines when they need it rather than one in each office.  They might not cost much these days, but if this is the case, why not actually make cuts where they’ll be felt less?


Average NESCAC Faculty Salaries

School (Full) Prof Assoc Prof Asst Prof Teaching Rank
Wesleyan 129.4 84.3 69.2
Amherst 135.3 87.8 75.5
Williams 130.5 88.8 74.7 #4
Bates 115.3 81.0 67.8 #17
Bowdoin 127.8 89.3 69.8 #17
Colby 120.2 86.7 68.7
Connecticut 104.3 76.7 63.0
Hamilton 114.8 83.8 66.8 #17
Middlebury 123.0 83.1 69.4 #9
Trinity 114.6 84.3 65.3
Tufts 127.2 95.3 75.7

Sources: AAUP Faculty Salary Survery via The Chronicle, U.S. News & World Report

Related: For whatever reason, average annual salaries are higher for males than they are for females in every category of professor at Wesleyan.

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14 thoughts on “The Other Side: Working for Wes

  1. Pingback: More Telephony: No One Calls Anyone – Wesleying

  2. Pingback: More Telephony: No One Calls Me – Wesleying

  3. anonymous

    Honestly, Tenured Radical complains about this a lot on her blog and most of it just comes across to me as whiny and unfounded. In real terms, with this non-level of inflation, automatic salary increases are not really realistic (or deserved). Why should professor’s salaries rise faster than inflation? She doesn’t even explain this assumption. And health benefits are a real cost to the university, and as long as health care continues to rise so much faster than inflation, institutions that offer generous health benefits are going to have trouble increasing salaries because total compensation is already costing them so much more.

    In another post on October 25 she’d written “At age 52, I make slightly more than 107K, 16K less than the median salary at my rank at Zenith and, adjusted for inflation and health insurance, less than I made three years ago. ” That is a not a salary to sneeze at, especially in a city like Middletown where $107k will go a lot further than if you’re in, say, New York City or DC. She’s also a professor in the humanities & social sciences, where there are lots of PhDs in the field struggling to make it by stringing together adjunct positions. As a tenured professor, she has excellent job security, which should also count for something. And is she upset that she’s paid less than the median? There are some fields that will always be paid more (ex. economics, some sciences) because salaries *have* to be that high to attract smart, qualified people who would have much more competitive salary offers in the non-academic world.

    Also, is she seriously complaining about increasing financial aid and trying to make Wesleyan’s high tuition more affordable? SORRY for wanting a great education like Wesleyan’s to be accessible to students who deserve it :/

    Anyway, I don’t know. I guess, after reading her blog for the past year, she just comes across as very self-centered. She doesn’t care about the plight of academics everywhere; she cares about the plight of academics who are just like her. She doesn’t care about the plight of students who aren’t lucky enough to have rich parent, because it means her salary might not increase. I don’t know. I just fail to have much sympathy for her whatsoever. If she wants to go apply for dean’s positions elsewhere, sounds like a great fit for her. Maybe when she’s on the administrative side she’ll learn to be a bit more realistic and less self-interested.

  4. Ayn Rand

    Looking through the data over time, the salaries for full professors has increased dramatically over the past decade, creating a major gulf in compensation between them and associate and assistant professors. Also, health insurance for University employees is a total debacle. For some reason that only an MBA could find compelling, the University dropped their outside insurer and switched to self-insurance, which is a major reason why the costs are out of control this year.

  5. anon

    my dad has been a professor at the same institution for 35 years and is paid a little over half of what Prof. Potter is paid. it’s hard for me to feel sorry for her.

  6. Fs

    Related: For whatever reason, average annual salaries are higher for males than they are for females in every category of professor at Wesleyan.

    IS THAT A JOKE??? I am not surprised that Wesleyan is like the rest of the US where women make less than 75 cents to the dollar which also differs racially and depending on the field (I believe 78 for asian women- and almost 68 for latina women- and around 73 percent for black women- 75 is for white women) (these numbers might not be quite the exact ones but very close to it)

    To anyone who says women aren’t oppressed….

    1. H5n1

      Women *aren’t* oppressed at Wesleyan, idiot.

      As someone above pointed out, Potter makes below the median because she’s in a department whose professors would receive lower compensation working outside of academics. This means that, say, computer science professors *have* to be paid more in order to compensate them for not making an easy six figures as programmers. And do you see any female computer science professors?

      It just happens that the departments that are in more highly paid fields, such as computer science, economics, and some sciences, tend to have more more males than females, whereas lower-paid departments, such as English, are more female-dominated. Wesleyan is *not* discriminating based on sex, rather on field. Do you really think that we wouldn’t hear anything if there was a flat-out sex gap in Wesleyan compensation??

      Now go shut the fuck up and learn statistics.

      1. Tenured Radical

        Oh the joys of hyperlinks and sitemeter. Actually, you would be surprised at some of the salaries in the English department, and in the history department as well. But you would actually need to break out salaries, department by department, to see whether women make less in the sciences too. And, uh, why is it that there aren’t more female computer science profs?

        But the point is that a salary policy where you pay people only what you must is a poor one, particularly in education, because having a highly mobile workforce at a teaching college is not necessarily a good thing. Replacing a full or associate prof with a new prof right out of grad school saves the school mucho dinero, but losing that experience that full profs are being paid for could be an issue for the students.

        Since you skooled the previous commenter Senor(a) STFU: what do you think happens to a workforce that is not rewarded, whatever they do for the university? The people who can leave do, and they prepare to leave by withdrawing from their students as much as they can and writing their a$$es off. Interestingly, sexism in the academy can have another effect at the higher ranks: women get cherry picked from places like Zenith and hired by RI’s. Why? Because there just aren’t enough women who have survived the process to make it to those higher ranks in any field, and as big unis move to redress their own lack of diversity, they pick off the women full profs who don’t already have a high status job. Wesleyan has lost four senior women that way in the last decade to: Harvard, Columbia, the New School, and Stanford.

        1. Obviousman

          Trust me, computer science departments, students, and industries are dying for more female comp sci profs. It isn’t their fault women don’t want to hang out with nerds even if it means higher salaries.

          1. Anonymous

            I know that you hit the reply button after only reading the first paragraph, but check this out: “Because there just aren’t enough women who have survived the process to make it to those higher ranks in any field, and as big unis move to redress their own lack of diversity, they pick off the women full profs who don’t already have a high status job.” TR recognizes right THERE exactly what you used as a rebuttal.

        2. H5N1

          You make good points. A counterargument would be that while hiring associate or part-time professors is an option that saves money for schools, at the same time it is reflected in their reputation and rankings. There are enough colleges and universities to create a good amount of competition, and so that will force schools that value their reputation to maintain their full professor positions, in order to attract more and higher-paying students.

          Therefore, although low-level or temporary professors may become more commonly used by low-tier institutions, market forces will push others to not pursue this route so that they can collect premiums for faculty quality.

          1. Anonymous

            It’d be nice if the real world worked this way, Mr. E. Conmajor, but universities have been making use of the fact that tenured professors like to be tenured professors, dealing out cuts and freezes as they please. The issue now is that some professors are getting sick of it and leaving, and it’s really hard to blame them. Tenured Radical herself is interviewing for other jobs. The point that TR is and has been making for months is that Wesleyan has been treating its faculty less than honorably, and the ones that Wesleyan should want to stay are the ones that are also the most able to leave.

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