Faculty salaries oppose national trend

Despite a national trend of stagnant salaries among college faculty, TCU faculty salaries remain on the rise, a university official wrote.

Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs, wrote in an e-mail that the average salary among all workers at TCU increased 3 percent last year and will be increased 2.5 percent this year based on merit. The percentage increase in pay raise is based on faculty performance, which is assessed by department chairs each year.

Nationally, nearly a third of all college faculty members took a pay cut during 2009 and 2010 with an average salary decrease of 3 percent. Overall, most college faculty saw no change in their salary at all, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Nowell Donovan, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said faculty salary is determined by each department chair. This is done by ranking faculty members and calculating the appropriate pay raise based on their performance within the department. The chair typically can raise salary by 2 to 4 percent. Once the chair makes a decision, the dean of the respective school or college will assess the faculty salaries and may choose to adjust the salary based on his or her knowledge of faculty performance. Donovan said he makes the final decision but doesn’t interfere with a pay increase unless it is a case he is specifically knowledgeable about.

“I, as provost, do not interfere because I’m not knowledgeable really about the details,” Donovan said.

Mills wrote that TCU is able to increase the average salary because it is affected by tuition. Tuition not only affects all salaries, but also provides new positions at the university. But there is no direct relation between tuition increases and faculty positions or compensations.

Kenneth Janak, director of budgets and financial planning, wrote in an e-mail that tuition is ultimately determined by the Board of Trustees.

“Each year the Chancellor’s Cabinet submits a tuition recommendation to the Board of Trustees at the board’s meeting in November, and the board may or may not agree with the recommendation,” Janak wrote. “And final approval for tuition rests with the Board of Trustees.”

The Chancellor’s Cabinet is made up of the chancellor and vice chancellors.

Tuition, as well as housing and dining revenue, collectively fund the operating costs of the university, Janak wrote. Aside from salaries and benefits for faculty, tuition increases when other operating costs increase, such as library subscriptions, utilities, food, building maintenance and technology support. Overall, compensation for faculty is the largest operating expense for the university, as it is for most universities throughout the country, Janak wrote.

“TCU has remained steadfast in addressing compensation in order to attract and retain the best talent possible so as to strengthen the experience that students receive,” Janak wrote.