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Professional Compensation and the Finances of Higher Education

Compensation levels in institutions of higher education must be sufficient to attract outstanding individuals into teaching, scholarship, research, and service. Institutions of higher education compete with the government and private sector for outstanding college graduates and holders of advanced degrees from a narrow national and international applicant pool.

There are also growing salary differentials among faculty members in various academic disciplines, especially at the four-year college and university levels. Although NEA recognizes that institutions feel compelled to compete actively to fill vacant positions with the best possible candidates, it calls on these institutions to recognize that:

  1. Clearly stated salary levels and structures, developed at some institutions through collective bargaining contracts, will reduce tensions on campus, promote harmony, and improve morale among members of the academic community. These contracts afford stability, consistency, and a controlling influence on salary distribution, along with a mechanism for making adjustments when necessary and appropriate.
  2. Faculty salaries in certain disciplines are being driven up by market factors and by shifts in student registrations. Adjustments in salary levels because of these factors should be made with restraint and with concern for equity and the probability of external changes in the future.

The salaries of women and minority faculty members continue to lag behind those of white males when all other factors are substantially similar. States and institutions should be held accountable for reaching parity in these situations.

Public funds expended for education, research, and services must be considered an investment in the economic future of this nation. State legislatures and the federal government should continue to invest in education—at all levels—to maintain the economic and social growth of this nation.