Karissa Lam / Design editor
The pay scale for state employees who comprise Ohio State’s faculty varies depending on field, contributions and other factors, including competition and student evaluations of instruction.
“There are individual faculty members within each area of instruction that are paid highly, and others that are paid less so. What determines that is the market,” said Tom Bond, the compensation manager for the human resources department.
University officials pay competitively in order to attract the best instructors and professors, Bond said. But some people on the payroll still say they are shortchanged.
According to the Collegiate Times, an online database displaying public university salaries, the highest paid professors at OSU are in the colleges of medicine and business.
Although these two schools receive substantial outside funding and grants, these extra funds do not enhance the pay of their faculty.
“While tuition, state funding and university funding may all go into the pool of money that eventually pays these individuals, it does not determine the pay scale,” Bond said. “If one college has more donors it doesn’t mean we will pay those professors more.”
The university uses salary information from benchmark institutions, other large, public, research universities that are comparable to OSU to set guidelines for compensation, said Susan Williams, vice provost for academic policy and faculty resources.
“Any given department or college might have peer institutions that are different from the university as a whole,” Williams said. “The college of law may look at professor salaries from other law schools like them, the medical school may do this as well. Then they set a baseline for compensation based on those institutions.”
According to the University Senate annual compensation report for 2009-10, OSU ranked fourth highest in faculty salaries out of 11 benchmark institutions, behind UCLA, the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland.
The average overall faculty salary for 2009-2010 was $103,480, which includes assistant, associate and full-time professors.
Graduate students who teach classes and conduct research are paid differently than full-time professors and instructors.
“Graduate teaching assistant and research assistant pay is part of their financial aid package that is intended to help them get through school,” Williams said.
Every graduate teaching, research or administrative associate appointed for at least 50 percent of full-time, or 20 working hours, receives full tuition, fee authorization and a monthly stipend. Fee authorization includes instructional and nonresident fees. Graduate associates are not allowed to work more than 75 percent of a 40-hour week.
Graduate associates can also sign up for health care benefits from OSU, for which they would receive an 85 percent subsidy.
The minimum stipend for three quarters for graduate associates is $9,000, with the stipend amounts varying between colleges, departments and appointing units, according to the Graduate School and Susan Reeser, the dean’s assistant.
While these are base stipends, many GAs find that their compensation does not support their day to day living expenses
“Our stipends are frequently not high enough to cover the cost of living in Columbus; a local agency recently calculated the monthly cost of living in Columbus at a minimum of $1400 per month, and many departments on campus pay well below that,” said Joshua Kurz, lead organizer of the Graduate Employee Student Organization at OSU, in an email. “The University of Michigan (a unionized campus) has a base salary level of $2086 per month, more than double the OSU base salary. While UM is certainly at the high end, I would say that OSU is not competitive with most of its Big 10 peers or benchmark institutions.”
Although groups such as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the University Senate and Graduate Employee Student Association (GESO) advocate for higher education faculty, these organizations are not unions and do not collectively bargain.
“Ohio State has never had unions,” Williams said. “Organizations like the AAUP usually work to help individual faculty if they feel their academic freedom is being challenged. They provide information, lobby at the federal level and are more of an efficacy group for faculty in general.”
Danielle Kurnick, a second-year in special education, said she thinks competitive pay is a good idea.
“These professors are getting paid based on what they do. I was pre-med for a year and they should get paid that much,” Kurnick said. “It’s a more advanced profession.”
Although some believe competitive pay is ideal in the university setting, other students have some concerns.
“There should be some standards. There shouldn’t be any one department that receives more funding.” said Kaytlin Error, a third-year in Japanese. “I can see somewhat of an advantage to paying science and engineering professors more as those are two of the most important fields of knowledge for the economy, and in general, but I’m sure English and foreign language professors don’t get paid what they should.”
Although full-time faculty are paid competitively, outside factors can determine faculty pay, including SEIs, faculty accomplishments such as research and published academia, and the university-acquired fund increases.
“It is important to convey that faculty chairs really do look at student evaluations when awarding pay increases,” Williams said. “We care about how our faculty is performing and we want to know how well they are teaching.”