Light on the Hill, Volume II

Miller, Russell


SALARIES. As Tufts entered its second century in 1953 the Arts and Sciences faculty consisted of 182 members, of whom 35 were part-time. Of the full-time faculty, forty-five were full professors, twenty-eight were associate professors, thirty-eight were assistant professors, and thirty-six were instructors. The average base salaries were $5,600, $4,500, $4,000, and $3,425, respectively. Base salary was computed ordinarily on nine months of teaching and represented a gross amount without "fringe benefits." Faculty compensation was base salary plus such contributions made entirely or in part by the employer as Social Security, medical insurance, and retirement contributions. For example, total compensation paid to full professors in 1953 averaged $6,384, $784 more than base salary. While Leonard Mead was secretary of the board of trustees, which issued all faculty contracts, he made a point of listing the fringe benefits each year to show how much the university contributed. The Dean of the College of Liberal Arts sketched in the financial prospects for the average full-time faculty member in 1955-56. The presumption was that some would be appointed with only a master's degree and would remain on the Tufts faculty without ever earning a PhD. The beginning base salary range for such individuals would be from $3,300 to $3,500 at the rank of instructor. This salary would increase about $100 a year and the individual might be promoted to assistant professor after six to eight years. After another ten years the faculty member might be promoted to associate professor. It was unlikely that promotion to full professor would ever take place or that the salary would ever exceed $6,000.

An individual with a newly earned PhD and some teaching experience, usually as a graduate fellow, would be appointed initially with the rank of instructor and earn a beginning salary between $4,000 and $4,500. The individual could look forward to promotion after one year, and in six years as assistant professor the salary would increase to $5,000. Such a faculty member would then be eligible for


promotion to associate professor, and in another ten years, if all went well, the salary would be increased to $5,600. The faculty member would then be eligible for promotion to full professor, at a salary increasing from $6,000 to $7,500 during the next fifteen to twenty years. The future at the associate professor level was not at all promising, having levelled off precisely at the time of maximum productive development, when monetary recognition of achievement was most important and individual financial obligations were likely to be the heaviest.

Comparatively speaking, Tufts was in a very poor position among privately supported institutions when Wessell became president. The median base salary for a full professor at nine such schools included in a nation-wide survey was $7,200 in 1953-54, while two years later the equivalent figure for Tufts was only $6,800. The institution was obviously lagging far behind its peers, and there was grave fear that in the increasing competition for faculty with large midwestern and far-western educational institutions, and the financial appeal of business and industry, Tufts would lose out. A top priority was therefore to increase faculty salaries sufficiently to bring them up to those paid by institutions with which Tufts competed.

Of all the needs recognized by Wessell, he considered the raising of faculty salaries of the greatest importance. In 1953, on the eve of his election as president, he told the trustees that it had to be "the first responsibility of the new administration." Year after year he hammered away at the subject. He told the trustees in 1954 that "the most important financial problem which the college faces" was providing upward salary adjustments for both faculty and staff. This meant increasing institutional income, and between 1953 and 1958 the university made significant gains by such devices as increasing sponsored research and raising tuition from $650 to $850, thus enabling expenditures to be doubled (to $9 million). Most of the enrollment increases during the same period were in the College of Special Studies.

Additional revenues enabled Wessell, during the period, to report an increase of median base salaries for full professors of 43 percent; for associate professors of 38 percent; and for the two lower ranks of 25 percent. In 1957 he had pointed to the need to double faculty salaries within five years. Some of the faculty were still smarting from the abysmal salary scale during the Carmichael regime and recollected that they had been forced to teach summer sessions during wartime without extra compensation, and later to supplement their incomes by teaching in the Division of Special Studies. They greeted Wessell's announcement as just another burst of rhetoric.


After all, so it was said, doubling faculty salaries virtually from ground zero would not be so great an accomplishment. But the president meant what he said. He announced in 1958 his aim of doubling faculty salaries within ten years. He not only fulfilled his promise but accomplished the doubling within eight years. (The Carnegie Self-Study in 1958 had called for an 8 percent increase for ten years.) However, it was no easy task. Even though some progress had been made in 1955 and 1956, Tufts was an estimated one year behind twenty-eight comparable institutions by 1957, and in 1958, in spite of improvement, was only at the median point of such institutions. The college teacher, according to Wessell, was still in "the most submerged profession in the economy."

One major outside resource for improving faculty salaries was a basic Ford Foundation grant of $500,000 in 1955 to be spread over a ten-year period. An additional $226,300 was awarded as an unrestricted "accomplishment" grant to recognize the special efforts that Tufts had made to improve faculty salaries. The university complied by transferring the principal of the Jumbo Bond Fund and the Tufts Foundation, both raised in the 1920S, from endowment to general investment for unrestricted use. The amount totalled almost a quarter of a million dollars. In 1956 the trustees also declared retroactively the availability of income from an earlier grant of $300,000 from the General Education Board. In the decade between 1955 and 1965, the amount of money expended on faculty salaries doubled, at an annual rate of increment averaging 8 percent. This paralleled a significant increase in the number of Arts and Sciences faculty. (The number of full-time faculty grew from 131 in 1959-60 to 178 in 1963-64.)

At the request of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in the late 1950s, Tufts became a participant in the Association's efforts to assemble comparative salary statistics on a national scale. The organization introduced a seven-point salary grading program in 1958-59, and in the following year Tufts ranked in the top one-third of those institutions reporting. According to the AAUP rating scale, which by 1960 had been transformed into a letter equivalent, Tufts advanced between 1960-61 and 1962-63 from a "C" to a "B" rating for full professors and associate professors, and from a "B" to an "A" (top) rating for assistant professors and instructors.

Provost Mead reported in 1961 that Tufts was doing slightly better than "holding its own" as compared with thirty-one other educational institutions in the Northeast.

The average total compensation (base salary plus fringe benefits) of all ranks in 1963-64 was $10,750, while the national average,


according to AAUP figures, was $9,552. The average compensation nationally for full professor was $12,979, while at Tufts it was $15,101. It was at Wessell's constant urging that this had been made possible.

Mead reported proudly in 1965 that the Tufts salary scale had become "reasonably competitive" with other institutions and that, according to AAUP standards, its percentage of increase at all ranks was greater than the national average for the fifth consecutive year. It was gratifying to be on the AAUP "honor roll" for so long. Average base salaries for the four academic ranks by the end of the Wessell administration were $14,096, $10,796, $8,466, and $7,034, respectively. A decade later (1975), toward the end of the Hallowell administration, the comparative figures were $23,092, $16,811, $13,402, and $11,723.

The local chapter of the AAUP was very unhappy when it was realized in 1967-68 that full-time faculty in the medical school were earning substantially more than their colleagues in Arts and Sciences. However, they were somewhat mollified after being informed that the medical faculty operated on a twelve-month basis rather than on the nine-month basis with which the faculties in Medford were familiar.

The great cost to the university which had made possible the significant improvement in faculty salaries was evident when the institution was forced, at the beginning of the Hallowell administration, to hold the percentage of increase to the lowest point in ten years. Faculty stipends slipped noticeably after a decade of substantial improvement and particularly after 1969 in relation to the national inflationary rate which had risen sharply by 1971. Total compensation in 1972 fell below the AAUP national average for the two lowest ranks. In order to hold down instructional costs, the size of the Arts and Sciences faculty was frozen in 1973, and the average salary increase of slightly over 5 percent that year coincided with doubledigit inflation. As a consequence, faculty purchasing power went down significantly. The situation had become so serious that upward salary adjustments averaging 2 percent were made during the summer of 1974 for those at the lower end of the scale, particularly for assistant professors.

The financial situation of the institution had improved sufficiently by 1974-75 to make possible a budgeted 7 percent increase in faculty salaries. As much as the salary situation had improved over the years, pressure to keep up was unremitting, not only to at least balance salaries with the changing cost of living but to make them sufficiently attractive so that Tufts could retain the favorable


competitive position which it had attained as a result of Wessell's efforts in the 1950s and 1960s.

Tufts salary scales in the early and mid-1970s steadily deteriorated in relation to purchasing power. Both Hallowell and the trustees were painfully conscious of the growing loss but felt that they were in no position to commit themselves to a reversal of the situation.

During the decade of the 1970s there was an average decline nationwide in total compensation of 17 percent for the three professorial ranks, but less than 10 percent at Tufts.

In the early 1980s, during the Mayer administration, a strong effort was made to restore faculty purchasing power to its 1970-71 level. The local AAUP chapter pressed in 1980 for a 15.3 percent increase, to be made possible by deferring maintenance and abolishing the office of senior vice-president which was vacant at the time. Much to the disappointment of the faculty, there had to be a retreat from a commitment to a 14 percent increase and a reduction to an increase of slightly more than 12 percent. However, by the mid- 1980s, the university had made great strides in maintaining its competitive position in relation to other colleges and universities and toward improving the economic status of the faculty.

  • Light on the Hill, the second volume of the history of Tufts University, was published in 1986, covering the years from 1952 to 1986. This doucument was created from the 1986 edition of Light on the Hill, Volume II.
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 Title Page
1. Setting the Stage for the Second Century
2. Long-Range Planning
3. Bricks and Mortar 1952-1967
4. The End of Theological Education at Tufts
5. Ever-Widening Curricula for Liberal Arts and Engineering
6. Jackson College: A Search for Identity
7. Defining the Role of the College of Special Studies
8. The Arts and Sciences Faculty I
9. The Arts and Sciences Faculty II
10. The Central Library
11. The Changing Character of the Student Body
12. Fraternities and Sororities at Tufts: A Cyclical History
13. A Beehive of Activity: From Trustees to Students
14. From Wessell to Hallowell
15. The Hallowell Administration: Years of Trial and Tribulation
16. The Hallowell Administration: Continued Trial and Tribulation
17. Educational Ventures, Successful and Otherwise
18. The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
19. Medical and Dental Education I
20. Medical and Dental Education II
21. Taking Stock of the University in the 1960s and 1970s
22. The Mayer Administration: A Preliminary View
23. The Mayer Administration: Consolidation and Expansion