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Ohio University is one of the lowest paying universities when compared to other schools in the Mid-American Conference.

When comparing salaries between different faculty positions such as professors, associate professors and assistant professors at schools such as Miami University and the University of Akron, OU is toward the bottom of the pay scale.

According to data compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education, the average professor’s salary at OU was approximately $107,000 as of 2015, whereas other schools in the MAC, such as Miami and Akron, professors’ salaries were higher than $110,000. The average salary of an associate professor was approximately $81,900 and assistant professors earned an average of about $68,800.

Loren Lybarger, an associate professor of classics and world religions, said the low rate of pay at OU in comparison with the other MAC schools has been an ongoing issue.

Lybarger, who is also the president of the OU chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said the university attempted to try and raise faculty salaries within the last five to six years.

“It was under Pam Benoit, the former provost. She was overseeing a committee I was a part of when I was in Faculty Senate, that was looking at (salary) in terms of total compensation.”

In 2013, then-Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit created a task force charged with creating recommendations to address faculty compensation.

“In recent years, a number of efforts and initiatives have taken place in an effort to assess and improve faculty compensation and well-being, including: the Faculty Compensation Plan,” University Spokesman Dan Pittman said in an email. “Its goal was to develop a multi-year plan to maximize (OU's) investment in faculty compensation in an effort to attract and retain talented faculty.”

When the university was engaged in this effort to increase pay, they were not talking about it in terms of salary, Lybarger said.

“They were playing it in terms of what they call total compensation which included health care as well as retirement benefits,” he said. “They wanted to be able to make the argument that the package that we receive is far greater than simply our take home pay now.”

Before this initiative began, salaries were still near the bottom in terms of MAC schools, Lybarger said.

“If this is the case that they continue to be at the bottom, clearly that initiative made very little impact in terms of the pay that we received,” he said.

Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said a committee was reappointed this year to study how close OU got to its salary goals and what the university might need to do to keep improving. 

“The goal there is to get us up into the top three in each, so (full-time) professor, associate professor, assistant professor,” McLaughlin said.

Just last month, OU President Duane Nellis shared a message about the 2019 fiscal year along with further budget guidance, Pittman said.

“His message also included news of a potential 1.5 percent raise pool, recommended by Ohio’s Budget Planning Council, for faculty and staff for the next fiscal year,” Pittman said in an email.

Under the circumstances with the university’s current budget, McLaughlin believes that the raise is a good idea.

“I think to go forward with a 1.5 percent raise is a good demonstration of their commitment to do something there,” McLaughlin said.

Lybarger believes that as a faculty member, a union should be required to show a representative body of faculty that is focused on issues in regards to compensation.

“Each of us is sort of individually left to our own devices and resources to try and negotiate the best deal that we possibly can,” he said. “You are in a position of relative weakness when you’re not acting collectively to address the compensation issue.”

Lybarger thinks that students and alumni should be concerned about this issue and become aware of it if they are not already.

“If you go out into the world as an OU grad, you want your degree to count for something,” he said. “But, you're not going to get that by slashing, cutting the faculty and not paying them. When you do that, you start to cause faculty to begin to look elsewhere.”

@TF_Johnston

tj369915@ohio.edu

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