Aug 05, 2020

Compensating our professors

On Wednesday, California State University (CSU) Chancellor Timothy White visited Fresno State.

In fulfilling his promise to visit every CSU campus within his first year in office, we also learned that he’s a good sport. He visited with the hump-day hangout camel, Tia, and pardoned a turkey—a play on the U.S. president’s annual tradition of pardoning a turkey on Thanksgiving Day. 

This is all well and good (and surprisingly humorous), however, rogue turkeys and jolly camels were not the only things White faced on this campus.  In the afternoon, he had to contend with a forum of more than 100 people.

During the discussion, White was faced with questions about faculty pay increase.

Here is something that is little discussed by students. We talk about tuition increases, the price of parking permits and how few healthy choices are in the campus food court, yet rarely do I hear students (myself included) discuss their professors’ rate of pay.

Now, I understand that it’s just not an issue that gets tossed about. Our professors are not our peers. They’re not our employers or co-workers so it makes sense that we would not think too much about it.

Regardless, it should be addressed.

The faculty members on this campus are responsible for not only our education, but the advancement of this university’s reputation.

Sure, the student body has a lot to do with how the institution is viewed. Yet, how do students become better if they are not confronted by uncompromising, inspiring, talented academics?

Despite the abysmal salary earned by many professors, they still work incredibly hard to give students a stellar education while they themselves do research, speaking engagements and writing — all this in the name advancing their work whilst also strengthening the standing of this university.

Unfortunately for the petite bourgeois of the CSU’s upper echelons, monetary compensation does go a long way in inspiring employees.

While the current professors do a great job despite its meager pay, I fear that the future of academia is under duress. Many college grads opt for another career path even if they would make great professors. Undoubtedly, they are deterred by the pitiful compensation in academia.

The academics who want a salary increase are not asking to be paid tens of thousands more. They simply want a few extra dollars so they can put money in their own children’s college savings plans or buy  new used vehicles, all while not feeling as though they are breaking the bank.

These are basic things that other highly educated, highly motivated folk may take for granted.

Professors spend years perfecting their craft. They spend thousands of dollars in grad school. Often, their research requires extensive travel. Then they pick up and move wherever they can find a position. In other words, they make sacrifices.

Can the administration make a few sacrifices of its own?

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