Category Archives: Salary-and-benefits


No Means No

Please join me in giving a standing ovation to Danielle N. Lee, writer of the Urban Scientist blog for Scientific American. In case you’ve been under a rock (or pile of urgent work) for the past week or so, an anonymous editor at Biology Online asked if Ms. Lee would become a regular blogger for his organization. When Ms. Lee inquired about the details, including compensation, and then declined to become a contributor, the editor asked her, “Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?” Ms. Lee…


The Accidental Pay Cut

“Bob” was a professor in a thriving department and carried a full teaching load; his breadth of academic preparation included credentials in several areas outside of his specialization. One day an administrator came to him and indicated that a new academic program was to start and that they would like for him to teach in it by separate contract. Just a course or two per year, as overloads.

Bob liked the idea, and, since he had two young children, he liked the idea of the extra pay; he learned th…


When Everyone Knows How Much You Make

In my first teaching position, the local newspaper printed all faculty salaries each October as a way to generate “transparency and accountability” for those of us who were on the public payroll. I was startled to see my name on the list the first time, and I have to say that it was not my favorite issue of the local fishwrap. I was less than thrilled to know that all of my friends knew what I made.

Nowadays this information is available on the Internet for many if not most public institutions. …


The Big ‘R’

Academe was headed for a huge wave of retirements before the economic downturn of a few years ago. As retirement accounts nose-dived, long-planned transitions were deferred, but now many people are considering making the coming year the end of their full-time service.

For faculty members who are contemplating retirement in another year, now is the time to start asking questions and having informal conversations about a possible transition. Such conversations can be held in confidence, if that is…


The Salary Dilemma

“Sue” was on the administrative ladder and was growing impatient. When she was urged to apply for a position at the next level, she jumped at the opportunity. A month or so later, she was called in for an interview. The institution was growing, and the spirit on the campus was positive. The interview itself went very well, and a few days later she received an offer.

The offer was disappointing. The salary was for about 75 percent of what she was making at her current position. The cost of living…


Summer Work

I’m the adviser for Richard Bland College’s pilot honors program beginning in the fall. For this, I will receive some release time in the fall. The problem is, I need to plan for the program now, before my contract starts in August. I’ve been talking with the administration about getting some money to do that planning, and it’s still up in the air if I will get any or not, but I wanted to pose the question here, from a young tenure-track faculty member (that’s me): How much should I work in the …


Family Friendly Comes at a Price

From The Atlantic comes word of a recent study, published in the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, that suggests that some university policies designed to be family friendly may have a detrimental effect on the paychecks of professors who use them.

Researchers at the Universities of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that faculty members who stopped the tenure clock for family reasons paid a price: Their pay was 3 to 4 percent lower the next year, even when there w…


Too Many Mentors Might Spoil the Soup

Sarah shared with her doctoral-program mentors the joyous news of her first job offer from a relatively small teaching institution. Several of them said, “What are you countering to their offer?” She was surprised, figuring she should merely be appreciative of the offer itself.

They started peppering her with items she should ask for. Relocation expenses? A research assistant? A library allowance? Travel money? Those were not that surprising as she thought about it, but then they pressed on: a f…


Are You Prepared to Walk Away?

In the last month or so, I have observed three tragic career train wrecks. In each case, I looked on in horror and what seemed like slow motion as otherwise smart people demonstrated profound naïveté about how to navigate their careers.

As I watched the events unfold, I found myself wanting to shout, “No, no. Don’t do it!” But in each case I arrived too late to be helpful. I was able to diagnose what had caused the derailment, but I was too late to the scene to prevent the damage.

Case 1 was a s…


Know Your Worth and Ask for It

Many years ago, I had dinner with my wise friend Sheila Campbell, who used to run a very successful advertising business in Washington, D.C. She related this story to me.

When we hired at the agency, we interviewed candidates, decided which one we wanted to hire, and then asked for that person’s salary requirements. If we could afford the requested salary, we would make an offer. One year when I was reviewing the books, I realized (to my growing horror) that I was paying men much more than women…