According to the American Association of University Professors, professor pay at North Dakota’s top two universities ranks in the bottom 20% of the nation. Of course, groups such as the AAUP love to bully states into raising professor pay with these sort of “national average” statistics. Because the national average is the national average.
The higher they can convince any given state to raise pay, the higher that average goes and the more pressure they can put on other states to raise the same.
But with the legislature considering the higher ed budgets – and with a bit of a food-fight having erupted after a House committee stripped those budgets down to essentially zero growth – it’s clear why these numbers are being fed to the state media right now.
UND professors make an average of $99,000 per year, while NDSU professors make $103,200. The national average for professors at all universities, including nonresearch universities, was $123,393, based on numbers reported by 1,142 institutions.
However, the average salary of instructional faculty at UND is slightly better. The average is $51,800, among the 50 to 64 percentile for public universities nationwide, according to the report.
NDSU instructional faculty earn a little less at $47,700, among the 35 to 50 percentile for public universities nationwide, according to the report. The national average for instructors at all universities is $48,359.
Pay for professors – or any profession, for that matter – shouldn’t be set on national averages. It should be based on what professors are willing to work in North Dakota for and nothing else. If we can attract qualified applicants to meet our higher ed needs at current salaries there’s little need to grow them.
And it’s not like professor pay in North Dakota hasn’t been increasing. Since 2000, according to numbers from the Chronicle of Higher Education, the average full professor at NDSU has seen a $42,500 increase in pay. The average associate professor has seen a $27,100 increase during that same time, and assistant professors have gotten a $15,700 bump in pay.
At UND, pay for those positions has increased $40,200, $33,200 and $25,100 respectively over the same time period.
How many North Dakotans can say they’re making $40,000 more or even $25,000 more today than they were a decade ago for the same position?
With students already paying a heavy toll in terms of skyrocketing tuition and student loan debt, do we really need to feel bad over professor pay? This hardly seems like a problem.