In a list recently released by the American Association of University Professors, CSU ranks ninth out of 13 schools in terms of salaries paid to full-time professors.
In the same list, CSU ranked seventh and sixth respectively in what the institution pays their associate professors and assistant professors.
By definition an assistant professor is the entry-level teaching position related to pay grade, usually not tenured, but can become tenured after a probationary period. An associate professor is the mid-level teaching position related to a pay differential, which can be tenured or tenure-track, according to www.answers.com.
"When compared to institutions that look like us (Internal Peers), our rank among the group improves with more recent hires…" Vice President of Administrative Services Keith Ickes wrote in an e-mail interview. "That is we rank better at associate professor level than we do at the full professor level and rank better still at the level of assistant professor."
Peer institutions are institutions that are similar in makeup to CSU based on enrollment size, number of colleges within the institution, as well as each institution having an agricultural college.
According to the report, a full-time professor at CSU earns $90,000 while a full-time professor at Michigan State University earns $101,800. On the low end, a professor at Oregon State University makes $79,200.
Similarly, an associate professor at CSU earns $67,000 while an associate professor at Michigan State University earns $73,000. At the other end of the salary spectrum an associate professor at Oklahoma State University makes $61,900.
An assistant professor at CSU earns $57,900, while a professor at North Carolina State University earns $61,900, and a professor at the University of Missouri, Columbia, makes $53,000.
According to Ickes, it is almost impossible for CSU to obtain the top spot in the yearly study because even if CSU were able to find additional revenue through tuition increases, they would still lack the major state support that many of the other institutions receive.
In addition to the nationwide comparison, the 13-page AAUP report also released a comparison of a dozen in-state institutions. CSU ranked fifth out of 12 in full-time professor salaries behind Colorado School of Mines in Golden, University of Colorado-Boulder, Colorado College in Colorado Springs and University of Denver. For example, a professor at Colorado School of Mines earns $103,500 while their counterparts at CSU earn $13,000 less. However, Adams State College in Alamosa ranks last at $54,900.
Nick Zwicker, a junior mechanical engineering major, believes professors should earn more money based the prestige of the institution.
"It depends – I mean different universities have different tuition and different standards." Zwicker said. "Our school, DU, CU-Boulder and the Colorado School of Mines, they all have a solid reputation so employers are looking for that. Therefore they are looking at higher staff capabilities."
According to Ickes, it is very important to ensure that faculty is paid well because it helps CSU recruit the best professors. For example, a full-time professor at CU-Boulder makes $10,000 more a year than the professors at CSU. Like in many other aspects, CSU and their in-state rival, CU-Boulder, are in competition for the best professors.
"If we do not remain competitive, at least as competitive as we are now, with our faculty salaries, then we will lose great faculty and have a difficult time recruiting the best faculty to sustain and grow our academic programs," Ickes wrote.
Other institutions included in the study along with CSU were Michigan State University; Texas A&M University; Virginia Tech; North Carolina State University; University of Missouri, Columbia; University of Nebraska, Lincoln; Iowa State University; University of Georgia; Washington State University; Kansas State University; Oklahoma State University and Oregon State University.
One of the main exponents to consider when determining faculty salary is market force or how much a person would earn in that profession outside the world of academia.
Edwin Chong, professor of engineering, said engineers should make more money in general. Chong does recognize and in some senses agrees with the aspect of salary determination based on market force. He also recognized the fairly large difference in faculty salaries between the various departments within the institution. However, he does feel that he is fairly compensated and happy with his current salary for the job he does.
"Could I make more? Of Course," Chong said. "But then I would have to sacrifice other things like working with students."
Tomas Habtemicael, a senior economics major, thinks associate professors should receive a fairly decent increase because he feels they work just as hard as some of the assistant professors and full-time professors. He does not think it affects their ability or motivation to teach.
"If they really love teaching, their salary shouldn't affect them at all," Habtemicael said.
Obviously, institutions pay their faculty members more money when they have larger budgets. However, Ickes said considering CSU's budget, the institution is doing fairly well in paying their faculty members.
"In general we're doing okay. We're in the middle," Ickes said. "Considering our level of funding, that's actually quite good."
Tuition and fees also play a significant role in regarding how much an institution pays its faculty. For example, a resident student at the University of Illinois pays $6,500 and as a result, the institution pays their faculty more money. CSU full-time, resident students paid about $3,800 for the 2004-2005 school year.
Ickes said students at CSU want the institution to maintain and improve the perceived value of their degree. Tuition increases that enable the institution to do so can be acceptable to students and parents. This is important because the state is considering tuition hikes at all of its colleges and universities including a proposed tuition hike of 12 percent at CSU.