Tulane faculty wages stagnant as leadership pay climbs

Rohan Goswami, News Editor

Tulane University faculty and academic support staff face considerable financial hardship after years of inadequate raises that do not align with cost of living or inflation, a survey conducted by The Tulane Hullabaloo found.

Gibson Hall houses senior level administration - where decisions about Tulane faculty wages are made - and the Office of Undergraduate Admission.
Gibson Hall houses senior level administration and the Office of Undergraduate Admission. (Colin Yaccarino | Photography Editor)

Overall, survey results indicate that Tulane employees on average will see their compensation rise by 2.73%.

This number stands in stark contrast to the nearly 6.5% average raise that Tulane administrators saw the last year data was available — a disparity made starker by the fact that many administrators make as much as seven times that of academic faculty.

Over the last nine years, senior leadership have averaged a yearly raise of 16.1%. This number, collected from public disclosures, does not differentiate between severance packages, mid-year arrivals, early departures or one-time bonus payments.

Survey results reveal startling pay inequity and wage compression across all bands of faculty and staff — from tenure-track professors to academic support staff.

The survey, sent to a selection of faculty and staff, asked them to share their appointment status, school affiliation and the percentage size of their raise for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Just over 8% of Tulane’s academic faculty responded. Of that number, the School of Liberal Arts was the most heavily represented.

The average raise for the sampled tenured track faculty was 2.3% — a number that effectively represents a pay cut in a year where inflation will most likely exceed 7%. 

Non-tenured faculty surveyed saw a slightly higher raise — 2.7%. That number included adjunct teaching staff and professors of practice, who generally hold terminal degrees in their field but focus exclusively on teaching.

Coupled with a pay and raise freeze from the 2020-2021 academic year, the responses to the survey suggest serious financial hardship is imminent — and for some, has already arrived.

Respondents were asked to share comments and feedback about Tulane’s pay structure. Multiple Tulane employees expressed extreme concern about their financial situation, particularly employees working in the School of Liberal Arts and at Howard-Tilton Memorial Library.

A common theme throughout many of the responses was that new hires would receive as much, if not more, than employees who had been at Tulane for, in some cases, decades.

Studies suggest that a phenomenon known as pay compression can lead to low morale and employee turnover.

Feedback from respondents suggests that pay compression at Tulane is doing just that. A variety of respondents — from tenured academic faculty to adjunct professors — expressed extreme dissatisfaction with Tulane’s childcare options, healthcare plans, plant and facilities and an “opaque” pay scale.

Tulane undertook a comprehensive compensation evaluation in 2017, and saw the floor — or base — salaries for tenure-track professors and professors of practice increase correspondingly.

Professor of Practice

$50,000

Assistant Professor

$68,000

Associate Professor

$75,000

Professor

$90,000

Each school handles salary adjustments differently, but 77% of respondents shared that they do not receive a cost-of-living adjustment. Instead, Tulane offers faculty and staff a ‘merit raise,’ tied to their job performance.

43% of respondents said their raise was 2% or less. The cumulative rate of inflation from 2020 to 2021 is 8.2% — meaning that in real terms, those respondents effectively had their salaries reduced by 6%.