Last updated: January 01. 2014 11:22PM - 4131 Views
By - mguydish@civitasmedia.com

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On average, teachers at area colleges and universities are paid above the national median rate for similar institutions, according to an annual report from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The best-paying place to teach among schools listed in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties? The University of Scranton, which had the highest average salary for all four teaching levels: instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and full professor. The averages, respectively: $56,100, $68,900, 84,100 and $101,500.

Technically, Penn State University campuses that offer bachelor’s degrees have a higher average for full professors, $102,100, but the report doesn’t break down data by individual campuses, so there’s no way to compare Penn State Hazleton or Penn State Wilkes-Barre average salaries to area colleges.

King’s College and Misericordia University rank as the two lowest-paying schools in the area. King’s, which recently rebounded from an operating deficit of nearly $5 million, had the low average for instructors, assistant professors and associate professors. Misericordia had the lowest for full professors.

President responds

In a written statement, Misericordia President Thomas Botzman said the school strives for a balance between its historic mission of providing an affordable education — it was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, a religious group that came to the area in 1875 to help improve lives of the impoverished and uneducated — and fair pay for a quality faculty.

“In order to accomplish our overarching goal of providing quality academics, service leadership, and professional preparation to all academically qualified students, no matter their ability to pay, we pay strict attention to both value and affordability,” Botzman wrote.

But being at the bottom of the regional pay scale isn’t all that bad. The report compares the salaries to the median — the salary at which an equal number of schools have higher and lower averages — for similar institutions. In all but three cases, local averages are either “above” or “far above” the median, according to the almanac

The exceptions: King’s and Wilkes fall below the median for assistant professor average pay ($52,300 and $60,700, respectively), and King’s falls below the median for instructor pay at $44,400.

The University of Scranton averages are far above the median in all cases. Two other schools hit the “far above” range: Wilkes, for full professor pay, and Marywood University, for instructor pay.

The report derives its data from an annual survey by the American Association of University Professors. Participation is voluntary. Schools are classified based on the programs offered: doctoral, master’s, baccalaureate and associate.

In calculating the averages, data include “all full-time staff whose primary role is instruction regardless of whether they have formal ‘faculty status,’” and does not include adjuncts. This means the percentage of all faculty actually included in the calculations can vary substantially. Locally, it ranges from a low of 35 percent at Misericordia and Marywood to a high of 64 percent at the University of Scranton.

Gender breakdown

The average salaries are also broken down by gender, giving a glimpse of any pay gaps between men and women. Locally, women were earning less than men in 10 of 16 cases where such a comparison could be made, though salaries were always 7 percent or less of their male counterparts. In five cases, women were getting paid more on average.

Faculty salaries are not the biggest part of college budgets. At Misericordia, pay for 124 full-time faculty will cost about $8.5 million this year, which makes up about 15.5 percent of the annual budget.

While average pay at local institutions may be above the median in most cases, they all rank pretty much in the middle of the pack among 86 schools listed in Pennsylvania.

The most lucrative places to be a full professor? Swarthmore College for baccalaureate schools, average salary of $137,900, and Villanova University for master’s degree schools, averaging $129,000.

And even those are relative pikers compared to the top-paying school in the state: The Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania, where the average salary for full professors is $187,000.

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