Compensation and Comparing Salary Averages

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Recent conversations at the college included a comparison of salary averages between our institution and 26 peer institutions using the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reports*. SSC salary averages do appear higher by comparison, a point which has been used to suggest that SSC faculty are relatively over-compensated:

Click to enlarge - IPEDS 2013 salary

An important point to consider is that SSC salary data also include the overall “on paper” increase that occurred as a result of reallocation, a directive in which faculty’s gross salaries were increased by an amount that is then deducted from actual pay and put toward insurance benefits. It is unclear whether each reporting peer institution includes any form of benefits compensation within their salaries in the same way we do, and IPEDS does not specify this in their reporting methodology per individual institution. This clearly may make a significant difference in average salary calculations.

Stark AAUP is currently checking with individual institutions and will report back with updated information when it becomes available.

This is the IPEDS salary comparison report from 2011 and the one from 2012:

Click to enlarge - IPEDS 2011 2012

Comparison institution salary averages changed little from year to year, yet SSC averages jumped quite a bit. The change in patterns absolutely suggests that the reallocated funds do play a role when comparing the current salary averages to those at peer institutions.

The conversation further suggested that in order to figure the amount of any proposed raise of 1-2% for next year (if approved), the portion of any reallocated salary would first be subtracted from the base amount. For example,

  • Current salary: $50,000
  • Reallocated amount: $10,000
  • Proposed raise: 1.0%
  • Calculation: ($50,000 – $10,000) * 1.0% = $400
  • New salary: $50,400

While this process reflects the reality that some faculty were hired post-reallocation, it certainly does raise an important question: why the difference in approach? Why recognize that reallocation has a skewing impact on base salary and subtract it in order to figure a raise, but then not recognize the same principle when considering overall salary data that is used to make comparisons and draw conclusions based on those comparisons?

Also mentioned was a possible lump-sum compensation payment based on several performance metrics including enrollment goals, graduation rates, and current year surplus. Is this process intended to eventually replace the possibility of raises which increase base salary? The answer to that question remains unclear since the discussion is a work in progress. However, if this is a system that will be implemented in the future, particularly troubling is the suggestion that meeting or beating prior student satisfaction rates be used as a possible measure of performance to figure any compensation. All faculty members are aware of the multiple problems and consequences associated with measuring “student satisfaction” and using it as an indicator of quality teaching. Such a system of compensation tied to satisfaction, however it is defined, is deserving of a much larger conversation before it is implemented.

It is in everyone’s best interests—faculty, administration, staff, and students—that the college looks to other comparable institutions around the state and country before this type of performance indicator is approved.


* IPEDS data and reports are available at http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/
Peer institutions included in IPEDS comparisons: Belmont College; Bluegrass Community and Technical College; Central Ohio Technical College; Cincinnati State Technical and Community College; Clark State Community College; Columbus State Community College; Cuyahoga Community College District; Eastern Gateway Community College; Edison State Community College; Grand Rapids Community College; Greenville Technical College; Hocking College; James A Rhodes State College; Lakeland Community College; Lorain County Community College; Marion Technical College; Metropolitan Community College Area; Monroe Community College; North Central State College; Northwest State Community College; Owens Community College; Sinclair Community College; Southern State Community College; Terra State Community College; Washington State Community College; Zane State College

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2 thoughts on “Compensation and Comparing Salary Averages

  1. David

    How does Adjunct Faculty pay at Stark State College compare with Adjunct Faculty pay at other community colleges in the State of Ohio. Especially with Cuyahoga Community College, Lakeland Community College and Lorain County Community College

    • Hi David, thanks so much for the excellent question! It is an important one, especially in light of the recent faculty survey responses calling attention to adjunct faculty conditions at SSC. As you might be aware, in the recent compensation plan meetings there was a slide with a bar graph shown at the end presenting a few adjunct pays rates from select area institutions. Frankly, I found that slide to be curiously placed and an inaccurate representation. It included only a handful of institutions some of which are not our peers. Plus, all of the other college rates were shown at their entry level yet ours was shown in the bar graph at maximum range with a small line to indicate entry wage – so at a glance, the bars made it look like our rates are substantially higher than the others listed.

      I requested and received a copy of the slide from the presentation (included below…explanatory note that came with it is intact as well) and I was told that the data used was not published anywhere but was compiled from posts by HR directors on an OACC listserve. Unfortunately, I contacted OACC directly for more and they said it has no official data collection on this.

      adjunctslide

      So I have been trying to compile a more accurate list of pay rates for all our actual peer institutions. It is surprisingly slow going – I discovered that there is no full publicly available database of adjunct pay rates (it is an interesting question as to why that is). I’ve also discovered that many institutions won’t simply tell you the rate if you call, so I’ve been reaching out to contacts at other institutions for help. For your specific question, here’s what I have gathered so far. These are minimum entry pay rates only and do not account for increases that may be available for years of service, degree, etc. For reference, SSC is currently listed at $781/credit hour for a 3-credit class (our HR info says that will be in effect starting August for Fall semester, previous was $777).

      • Lakeland Community College: no reply with detailed information as of yet
      • Cuyahoga Community College $827/credit hour on a 3-credit class. It was also indicated that an increase is or will be in effect soon, but that hasn’t been confirmed for me yet.
      • Lorain County Community College: $740/ILU*
        *It is very important to note here that the rates provided by LCC were given in ILUs which is what they use to measure and it is not always a direct ratio to a credit hour. They have a limit of 12 ILUs taught per semester for adjunct faculty.From their manual (here):
        “The ILU values for classroom teaching shall be as follows:
        (1) 1.00 – for each assigned weekly lecture/discussion or recitation or contact hours.
        (2) 1.20 – for each assigned weekly classroom teaching contact hour of English writing courses.
        (3) 0.85 – for each laboratory hour assigned.
        (4) 1.00 – for each weekly clinical teaching contact hour assigned.”
        So it appears that depending on the type of course and contact/lab/clinical hours contained in it, ILU may be higher than credit hours and thus paid as such (e.g. a 3 credit course may be counted as 4.55 ILU – I’ve posted some snippets below from their posted documents to better explain the variation)lccilu3lccilu1lccilu2

      Once I am able to get a full list of rates compiled for all our peer institutions, we will provide it on this site in a blog post. 🙂

      ~Angela

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