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Abstract

This paper examines monetary compensation of 127,222 full-time faculty employed by the 390 regional universities in the United States who are members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Compensation data published by the U.S. Department of Education and organizations concerned with faculty, including the American Association of University Professors and others, typically lump all four-year public university faculty together, ignoring well-known differences in teaching workloads at different types of public four-year universities (four instead of two courses taught each term, etc.). Further, many compensation studies do not examine fringe benefits, which are 30 percent of total monetary compensation.

Regional universities serve nearly 4 million students nationwide, and are highly committed to be good stewards of place. They are worthy of study as a separate institutional type on their own. As large numbers of “baby boom” era faculty at regional universities approach retirement, an accurate base-line assessment of total monetary compensation (salaries and fringe benefits) is important. This study examines (1) salaries and fringe benefits, (2) includes the entire universe of U.S. regional universities, (3) examines differences by geographic peer institutional types, and (4) examines if the presence or lack of collective bargaining matters.

The 2011 Human Resources Survey from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System is the most recent year for which both salary and fringe benefits data are available. The 390 regional universities were divided into seven sub-types: Rural-Small, Rural-Medium, Rural-Large, Suburban Smaller, Suburban Larger, Urban Smaller, and Urban Larger. Katsinas’ geographically-based classification scheme of regional universities (2016, forthcoming), similar to the geographically-based 2005 and 2010 Carnegie Basic Classification of Associate’s Colleges on which he was lead author, was used. The average total monetary compensation for the 127,222 full-time faculty employed by the 390 regional universities was $97,174, of which $71,348 came in the form of salaries and $25,828 in fringe benefits. The 15,872 full-time faculty employed by the 90 Rural-Medium regional universities received on average $84,720 in salaries and fringe benefits, while the 18,884 faculty employed by the 42 Suburban-Larger regional universities received $101,366. In general, full-time faculty at the 55 Suburban regional faculty were highest paid, closely followed by faculty at the 74 urban regional universities, with faculty at the 261 rural regional universities well behind. The range of monetary compensation across the seven sub-categories of regional universities was large--and this one-year difference of nearly $17,000 is magnified further when considered over an entire 30-plus year teaching career, adjusted for inflation.

The differences are even wider when the presence or lack of collective bargaining is considered. Among the 127, 222 full-time faculty at regional universities, 74,468 or 63% worked at the 219 institutions in the 30 states that in 2011 had collective bargaining (as reported in the 2012 Directory of Collective Bargaining published by the National Center for Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions), while 52,754 or 37% were employed at the 171 regional universities in the 20 states that did not. Full-time faculty at rural, suburban, and urban regional universities with collective bargaining received on average $92,407, $116,353, and $108,399 in total monetary compensation in FY2011; this compared to averages of $82,722, $84,813, and $86,594 at rural, suburban, and urban regional universities without.

This study revealed that regional universities, currently spread across many subcategories of doctoral, master’s, and baccalaureate universities within the Carnegie Basic Classification universe, deserve analysis in their own right.

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