Valuing Academics?

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(Originally posted August 18, 2014)

Financial compensation is one of, if not the, most important indicators used by organizations to reflect the professional value assigned to its employees. As the start of a new semester is upon us, it is important to consider the value we, as an institution, place on both academics as well as people.

For example, the Social Science Department currently seeks to fill its Department Chair position. The Department Chair of Social Science will oversee 4 different degree-granting programs, assist in coordinating the growing dual-enrollment programs, supervise full-time and adjunct faculty, fulfill a range of other administrative tasks, and teach. The salary range for this demanding academic position is $53,378 – $66,723, which is well below the national average offered in this discipline. Yet consider that since March 2014, SSC filled 3 new executive positions with salaries ranging from $85,341 – $125,996. Currently, SSC also has an open position for a Human Resources Generalist. The salary range for this position is $52,335 – $65,419. This is not to suggest that the Human Resources Generalist does not provide valuable services to the college and its staff. However, it is important to consider the message these salary ranges send. According to the listed ranges on the SSC employment portal, it is possible for a Human Resource Generalist to be compensated at a rate greater than an academic department chair. (For a more detailed listing of current salary by division/department and job title, see our SSC Salary Index.)

Similarly, it warrants mentioning that SSC’s Chief Academic Officer (or Provost) is compensated substantially less than other executives at the college. In fact, the Chief Academic Officer is compensated at a rate that is 15.82% less than the VP of Business and Finance; 11.86% less than the VP for Enrollment Management, Student Services, and Administration; and 5.67% less than the VP and Special Assistant to the Provost for Strategic Initiatives. Additionally, according to the college’s Key Performance Indicators Report, adjunct faculty currently teach 53% of the college’s total course load. Although this trend is not inherent to SSC, this report indicates that a majority of the college’s classes are taught by part-time instructors paid on a per-class basis at a substantially lower rate.

Like many other institutions around the country, SSC appears to convey the message that academics are, in fact, undervalued at the college.

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