UA faculty salaries not in step with inflation

By Melissa Prentice

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Nationwide, professors' salaries are growing faster than inflation but the trend has not registered in the pocketbooks of UA faculty members.

According to a study by the American Association of University Professors, average salaries for faculty members rose 3.4 percent in 1994-95. After being adjusted for inflation, the growth is about 0.7 percent.

This represents the first time since 1989-90 that professors' salaries nationwide have outpaced inflation for two years in a row, according to the survey.

This year, University of Arizona employees, including professors, received a 5 percent cost-of-living increase, said Stan Reynolds, an economics professor and chair of the Faculty Senate Budget and Strategic Planning committee. In addition, $2 million was appropriated to give "market fairness" adjustments to various employees, including many faculty members, he said.

But although pay increases for UA professors outpaced both inflation and the average national pay raise this year, he said he thinks it is an isolated incident and not a sign that faculty salaries will continue to increase. During the past five years, faculty salaries have not even kept pace with inflation, he said.

And UA faculty members can expect only a 2 percent "merit-based" increase for next year, which is below inflation, he said.

As salaries continue to increase across the country, salaries of faculty members in Arizona continue to fall farther behind those of their peer institutions, said Carol Bernstein, UA microbiology professor and AAUP chapter president.

In 1981, faculty salaries at the three Arizona universities were above the average of their peer institutions. By 1995, all three of the state institutions lag between 15-18 percent below their peers, she said.

She said the university needs to make a stronger commitment to faculty salaries, in order to continue being competitive in attracting high quality professors to the university.

But Reynolds said he thinks that in a time of low budget appropriations from the state Legislature, faculty members should not expect a large increase.

"It would be good to have more done, we all want to make more money, but faculty pay raises should not be the first priority when the university goes to the Legislature for money," he said.

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