This article was updated at 12:58 p.m. for factual corrections.
According to the American Association of University Professors, the average salary for full professors at Albion College is $78,800; for associate professors, $64,300; and for assistant professors, $53,700. Albion is the only school in the 13-member Great Lakes College Association whose full professors don’t make more than $80,000 on average.
As Albion College continues to see its enrollment numbers increase, why aren’t professor salaries being raised?
Marc Roy, Albion College provost, says the main factors are the size of Albion’s endowment and the college’s income from tuition. Roy said almost no students pay the posted tuition price because they receive substantial financial aid. He appreciates that the college can educate those students, but this means the college’s income isn’t as high as it could be and Albion isn’t able to do some of the things other schools can, like raise professor salaries.
“The bottom line is income. We’ve got to work to raise our income, and we can’t do that by just charging students more,” said Roy. “Students pay as much as they can, and we have to find other ways, like endowed scholarships, where the endowment is earning money to help the students with tuition instead of it being a cut tuition price. As we can do those things and get our operating budget in better shape, then we can start making some progress on faculty salaries.”
Endowments can be set up for almost anything, and the money from the endowment underwrites operating costs. If the college is able to increase their endowment, it can free up money to be used for different things on campus, including salaries.
Other schools in the GLCA have larger endowments than Albion’s $185 million endowment, and a larger fund earns more money and creates a greater income. Because Albion gives substantial financial aid to students, many schools collect more money per student compared to Albion, said Roy.
In recent years, Albion has seen a 3 percent annual increase in the salary pool, with faculty members receiving a 2 percent increase in salary, and the other 1 percent being used for promotions, a merit increase or a bonus. Roy said there’s been a 3 percent increase for several years.
“I expect there probably will be [a 3 percent increase] for next year, but I don’t know that for sure,” said Roy. “It’s not great, and it doesn’t allow us to gain ground on the GLCA, so it’s a really tough problem.”
After the 2008 recession, Albion went through a period of salary freezes from 2009 to 2012. Albion hasn’t been able to increase salaries past 3 percent because of some financial matters from the recession. After the college addresses those matters, it can focus on increasing faculty salaries.
“Everybody would like to increase salaries,” said Roy. “We’ve got to address a couple of fundamental issues first, and once we do, we can start doing larger increases, and I can’t wait for the day that happens.”
According to Roy, a faculty member almost always comes in as an assistant professor. Professors can apply for tenure after six years, and if they’re promoted, they become an associate professor which includes an increase in salary. After a few more years, they can apply to become a full professor, and that also includes a salary increase.
The main goal for the college is to increase its income and endowment. Roy said they can do some things to raise money around the edges, but not enough money to add another percent or two to faculty salaries. Albion has begun camps for high school students over the summer, and while those camps don’t bring much money initially, they hope the students attending the camp decide to come to Albion.
Photo via Pleiad Archives