PolitiFact on UW System Faculty Salaries

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and PolitiFact Wisconsin recently examined a statement by University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly asserting that “faculty salaries at UW System institutions have now fallen more than 18 percent below the national average.” Reilly made the remarks to the Board of Regents on December 7.

PolitiFact found that Reilly’s remarks were true and cited figures from the American Association of University Professors and analysis from The Chronicle of Higher Education as evidence:

The Chronicle of Higher Education site shows that all but one of the UW System’s 13 four-year campuses pay professor salaries that are “far below” the national median for full professors at public, private and independent institutions of similar type. Madison is the lone exception; average pay for full professors there ($114,690) is merely “below” the median for doctoral institutions. Figures are for full-time professors.

Pay at 11 of the 13 schools for another group of faculty — assistant professors, which is considered the entry level — was “below” or “far below” the national median. At the other two, it was above the national median — Madison ($75,860) and Whitewater ($62,178).

PolitiFact noted that salaries for full professors at UW-Madison are on average 4 to 5 percent below the median for doctoral institutions. For many years, UW-Madison has used a rank-by-rank salary comparison with a peer group of similar public doctoral institutions. The most recent comparisons show that faculty salaries at UW-Madison are 12.6 percent lower than the median. This method of comparison was first approved by the Governor’s Faculty Compensation Study Committee in 1984 and reaffirmed by the Governor’s Commission on University of Wisconsin System Compensation in 1992.