The Spokesman-Review


Guest opinion: Idaho colleges lag in funding

The faculty union at the University of Idaho has salary figures that go back to 1982, so it is significant to note the growing inequity between faculty and administration, and among administrators themselves.

In 1982, UI professors were only 17 percent behind the national average for Ph.D.-granting institutions. The margin has grown to 26 percent.

Assistant and associate professors lag 17 percent and 16 percent, respectively. By comparison with other Mountain West schools, UI full professor salaries trail 18 percent, assistant professor 12 percent, and associate professor 14 percent.

In 1982, UI President Richard Gibb was only 15 percent ahead of his fellow administrators, but President Duane Nellis’ salary has jumped 45 percent ahead of his. Over 31 years, UI administration salaries have risen 293 percent, versus 213 percent for full professors. The consumer price index increased 231 percent over the same period.

Nellis is now only 15 percent behind his public institution peers, while his full professors lag by 26 percent. Adjusted for inflation, the nation’s higher education executive salaries rose 35 percent from 1995-2006, while faculty pay went up only 5 percent.

When Nellis demanded $40,000 more than his predecessor, the State Board of Education decided to equalize executive pay at the three universities.

At Idaho’s three two-year colleges, which have independent boards, presidential pay ranges from $160,000 at North Idaho College, to $175,000 at College of Western Idaho and $204,294 at College of Southern Idaho.

For 2012-2013, Idaho’s K-12 union teachers averaged $49,734 per year, while CWI and CSI faculty made only $43,545 and $48,927, respectively. For two-year colleges with professorial rank, CSI is 26 percent behind its national peers, while its assistants and associates lag 17 and 19 percent, respectively.

At an average of $53,481, North Idaho faculty are 15 percent behind national two-year schools without professorial rank. Primarily because of their salary step system, their instructors still earn $9,936 more than their CWI colleagues and $4,254 more than professors at CSI.

A salary step system is at the center of all collective bargaining agreements. Better salaries and grievance procedures come with union contracts, and my organization has tried to introduce a higher education collective bargaining bill in the Idaho Legislature, to no avail.

Incredibly enough, the Lewis-Clark State College faculty average for all ranks was only $49,400, just behind their K-12 colleagues, and their full professors were 1.3 percent behind their peers at College of Southern Idaho.

LCSC full professors make $56,900 per year, but their national peers in baccalaureate institutions make $86,400 – 34 percent more. LCSC assistant and associate professors are 23 percent and 31 percent behind, respectively.

Even though Boise State University does grant some doctoral degrees, it still does not qualify, according to the American Association of University Professors, as a Category I Ph.D.-granting university. In our previous surveys, we have erred in including BSU with UI and ISU as Category I.

Nationally, at the Category IIA level, BSU full professors are 9 percent behind, while associates and assistants lag by 7 percent. Among the 13 city universities that BSU has chosen as its peers, eight are Category I institutions, and BSU faculty are much further behind measured against that group.

For two years running, the administration at Idaho State University has declined to send salary data to the AAUP. After President Arthur Vailas disbanded a duly-elected faculty senate, the AAUP voted to place ISU on its sanction list. That was in June 2011. It now has the dubious distinction of being one of four institutions in the United States on this black list.

Compared to Montana, where all the campuses are unionized, state appropriations for higher education there have declined only 5.9 percent since 2008, while in Idaho they have dropped 20 percent.

We all need to lobby our legislators to restore the $46.8 million that our colleges and universities have lost since the beginning of the Great Recession.

Nick Gier is president of the Higher Education Council of the Idaho Federation of Teachers. Salary tables can be viewed at Salaries by UI department are at UIFY13.pdf.

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