If the spring in your professor's step is a little livelier than usual these days, don't assume it's because of the remarkably high quality of that last batch of papers.
Rather, the 3.4-percent increase in faculty salaries nationwide may have a little more to do with it.
The increase is detailed by the American Association of University Professors in a report that this year has been titled "Doing Better" – a reference to a jump in salaries that is double the rate of inflation.
At Princeton, salaries bested even the national average. In 1997-98, full professors who were here last year have seen their salaries rise a full 4.7 percent since 1996-97. Full professors now make an average of $110,300 per year, associate professors make $65,400, assistant professors make $51,000 and instructors make $43,100. This compares favorably with national averages for faculty salaries, which were $69,867, $51,219, $42,241 and $32,445 for each respective level.
The high salaries earned Princeton the AAUP's top rating, meaning that the University's salaries are in the top 20 percent for all doctoral institutions. There are, in fact, only two undergraduate schools – Harvard and Stanford – that pay their professors more money.
"Doing Better" comes on the heels of last year's "Not So Good." That report was critical of a three-percent raise in pay in a year in which inflation rose at 3.3 percent. Though the increase in salaries was only slightly greater than what it was last year, Ernst Benjamin, director of research for AAUP, said the authors of the report were pleased to see the gain relative to the inflation rate.
"The funding was adequate to maintain the same rate of increase (in salaries), even though the inflation fell," Benjamin said.
However, this year's report did keep the underlying theme of "Not Good Enough." Benjamin explained that faculty salaries had been lagging in the late 1970s and 1980s because of the high rate of inflation, and are only now starting to catch up. "The result is that faculty salaries are still four percent below what they were," Benjamin said, citing the mid-1970s as a golden age for professors.
This year, the national average for all faculty was $54,241. At the University, the average for all levels was $86,700. Benjamin said such a disparity is to be expected, given that the University's reputation relies on its ability to attract top faculty and that money is one of the best ways of bringing them to campus.
Aside from salary, the University also received top rankings for its compensation packages and benefits, which are independent of salaries and included averages of $134,100 for full professors, $80,900 for associate professors, $63,000 for assistant professors and $53,600 for instructors.
The news was not all positive, however. The study revealed that, as is the case with most schools, there is still a significant difference between salaries paid to male faculty and female faculty. For instance, among full professors, men received an average of $111,100, while women got only $104,900. The study also showed that a major gender gap remains in terms of the number of professors employed, with 509 male faculty compared to only 131 female faculty.