Bringing the light of knowledge to distant heathens makes blogging fun. Consider my plan to freeze faculty/staff salaries for those making more than $100,000. Williams needs to cut its costs. Morty has promised not to fire anyone. A (large?) majority of the College’s operating costs are for salary and benefits. Given these constraints, it seems reasonable that a “progressive” institution would focus any salary freezes/cuts on its richest employees. Derek Catsam ’93 is unimpressed with this argument.

Dave, for once, for the love of all things holy, could you not demagogue the issue? What percentage of Williams profs make more than $100,000? You choose the outlier to make it seem to others who do not know better than my argument is intended to defend a group of people making six figures. The vast majority of Williams faculty do not even approach this figure, and the vast majority of junior folks, especially in the humanities, the center of a Williams education, do not even approach approaching $100,000.

Alas, we don’t have good data on the distribution of faculty salaries at Williams over time, but I am fairly certain that Williams is similar to Amherst on this dimension (contrary opinions welcome), and Amherst is marvelously transparent. Consider Amherst’s data above. Comments:

0) UPDATE: To be clear, the table above is from Amherst, not Williams. Why don’t we make such summary data publicly available?

1) Is the 2007–2008 data for Williams similar? Yes. Inside Higher Ed reports on the annual AAUP salary survey. If I am reading the information correctly (page 52 of this big pdf), the average total compensation of all Williams faculty was $135,500 in 2007 — 2008. And that’s after a 6% raise! Full professors make an average of $163,500. Think that they could survive a salary freeze for a few years? I do.

2) For future reference, this survey seems to cover (corrections welcome) 251 total faculty members. Their total salary/benefits bill in 2007–2008 is $34 million, around 20% of the College’s operating costs. The average raise for that year was 6.5%. Avoiding a similar raise for next year would save Williams around $2.2 million. (That’s a rough calculation. We need to throw out the faculty making less than $100,000 but then add in the administrators who make more. We probably can’t avoid the annual increase in health care costs.)

3) Derek (and other readers) have no idea how well paid Williams professors are. No worries! I am here to help. One way to model the behavior of any non-profit is that, instead of focusing on the “mission,” it mainly serves to benefit those who control it. Salaries above $100,000 are hardly an “outlier” at Williams. Instead, they are the norm. Am I a “demagogue” to bring up this topic? Only if you use that word to describe me and all my progressive friends. We need to spread the wealth around.

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