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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Professors secure lowest pay raise in 50 years, survey reports

A survey released dismal results for college professors’ pay, showing that salaries increased 1.2 percent for this academic year.

The American Association of University Professors’ data reported the smallest increase in its 50 years of conducting the surveys.

This 1.2 percent pay raise lies below the year’s 2.7 percent inflation rate increase. Although the survey indicates salaries for American university professors in general, UC Davis vice provost of academic personnel Barbara Horwitz said she agrees that, on average, the salaries of UC Davis faculty did not keep up with inflation.

However, this salary lag is not only applicable to professors and lecturers. UC Davis staff has suffered alongside faculty, Horwitz said.

Davis Division Academic Senate Chair Robert Powell, chemical engineering and materials science professor, explained UC faculty salaries are considered in comparison with a group of eight other universities – four public and four private.

Up until 2000, UC salaries tracked reasonably well with the average pay at these universities, Powell said.

“Since then, we’ve been losing ground dramatically with respect to the privates,” he said. “We have been ahead of the average of the four public [universities], but slowly they are catching up to us as our salaries stagnate, and their [salaries] slightly rise.”

During the 2006-2007 academic year, a plan was put in place to make UC salaries competitive in regards to the eight universities. However, due to the budget crisis, only one year of the four-year plan was enacted.

“Most recently, [UC faculty] are falling further behind the average of all eight universities,” Powell said. “We are now more than 10 percent below.”

Powell added that specifically UC Davis faculty pay is less than those at the other UCs.

Along with the very slight 1.2 percent pay raise, the association’s survey also reported that in one third of higher learning institutions salaries actually decreased. In the previous year only 9 percent of universities had reported a decrease in salaries.

Horwitz asserted this decline in pay roll holds constant at UC Davis.

“Because of furloughs and the absence of any cost of living increase for faculty – as well as for other university employees – the majority of our faculty are taking home less salary money this year than last,” Horwitz said.

Jessie Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, explained salary increases were actually seen only in limited cases. For example, retention efforts, in which another university tries to hire a UC Davis faculty member, are averted by UC Davis matching the salary offered by the competing institution. Promotions in rank, such as an assistant to associate professorship, or merit are also means for additional compensation.

Owens stated that since the economic downturn there have been no cost of living or market adjustments, with the only increases to paychecks coming from the merit process. This rigorous review of professors occurs every two to four years, depending on their rank, and includes recommendations by department, the dean, a faculty personnel committee and finally, the vice provost, provost and chancellor.

Owens said the lack in salary growth, except in such circumstances, prove a strain, not just on faculties’ pocketbooks but on the overall quality of the institution.

“Not being competitive makes it very hard to keep our best faculty or to hire new faculty,” Owens said.

An updated report entitled “The Death of UC Faculty Salary Scales” by UC Davis Law Professor and chair of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate Daniel Simmons concluded salaries are not meeting the standards set by the University of California Academic Personnel Manual. The manual states “in order to preserve the significance and values of the salary scales, salaries should be on-scale to the greatest extent feasible.”

However, Simmons’ writings showcase that 63 percent of UC faculty have off-scale salaries.

In addition, faculty have been subject to furloughs, which Owens asserts are, in essence, a reduction in pay of up to 10 percent a year.

Dean of mathematical and physical sciences Winston Ko said the situation regarding the academic personnel process and salary scale from college to college in UC Davis are uniform.

KELLEY REES can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


  1. Chancellors, Faculty University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) clean up at the expense of students, California taxpayers. Californians face prolonged stagnant economy, mortgage defaults, 12% unemployment, pay reductions, loss of unemployment benefits.

    UC Berkeley shares economic pain of Californians? No Chancellor, Faculty layoffs or wage concessions.

    UC Berkeley pay raises, tuition & fee increases are arrogance. Apply for positions when chancellor, vice chancellor, tenured, non tenured faculty, UCOP wages better elsewhere. If wages are what commit faculty to UC, leave for better paying job. The sky will not fall on UC Berkeley.

    UC Berkeley wages must reflect California’s ability to pay, not what others are paid. There is no good reason to raise salaries, tuition, fees when wage concessions available from Chancellors, Faculty.

    In the spirit of shared sacrifices UC Berkeley Faculty, Vice Chancellors, Provost, Chancellor:

    No furloughs.

    18 percent reduction in UCOP salaries & $50 million cut.

    18 percent prune of campus chancellors’, vice chancellors’ salaries.

    15 percent trim of tenured faculty salaries, increase teaching load.

    10 percent decrease non-tenured faculty salaries, increase research, teaching load.

    100% elimination of all Academic Senate, Academic Council costs, wages.

    (17,000 UC paid employees earn more than $100,000)

    There is no question the necessary cuts will be painful to Faculty, Chancellors.

    UC Board of Regents Chair Sherry Lansing can bridge public trust gap with reassurances salaries of Chancellors, Faculty reflect depressed California wages.

    With UC’s shared economic sacrifices, the sky will not fall on the 10 campuses.

    Email Opinion to Dianne.Griffiths@ucop.edu


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