University salaries lower than peers

ATLANTA --- In many respects Susan Mattern has a successful career. The University of Georgia associate professor has tenure. She once led the faculty government council, and this year she is publishing her fourth book.

She's also thinking of quitting.

The reason is that her pay, $61,000, is significantly less than she could get somewhere else.

"It seems like there's not really a reward to experience and seniority and loyalty and competence," she said.

A recent study shows the average faculty salary at the university is 3 percent lower than comparable universities across the country. Nearly all of Georgia's 34 universities and colleges fall below the comparison.

The biggest gap is at Kennesaw State University, where faculty fall 18 percent below their peers.

"I took this partly because at the time Georgia had a reputation of supporting higher education ... which it is in the process of destroying," she said.

The man who writes the budget for Georgia's public universities ordered the study to learn the scope of the problem. Rep. Bob Smith, R-Watkinsville, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Higher Education Subcommittee, said faculty salaries and building maintenance were the top issues when he asked all the college presidents for their main concerns.

He describes the study as the first step in setting larger priorities for higher education.

The situation arose when the state cut funding for education to cope with the previous recession, said Arnett Mace, the senior vice president for academic affairs at UGA. To keep key faculty from leaving, Mr. Mace has made 136 counter offers in the past two years and shifted money to salaries that had been earmarked for other uses.

According to the study, it would take $38 million to bring salaries to the average among comparable institutions, and another $8 million to do the same at the technical colleges.

AVERAGE FACULTY SALARIES

Here are the average salaries for faculty at selected Georgia schools compared to the average at similar institutions in size and mission.

InstitutionProfessorAssoc. Prof.Asst. Prof.Comparison
Augusta State$76,495$56,240$50,462-3%
Med. College of Ga.$109,371$76,262$61,344-5%
University of Georgia$99,879$71,027$64,966-3%
Source: The Competitiveness and Compression of Faculty Salaries in Georgia's Public Institutions prepared for the Georgia House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education