Kent State below average in national salary comparisons

Olivia Minnier

Salaries for a professor and other positions can vary greatly depending on the type of institution.

The national average salary for a four-year public institution professor is around $111,000, $80,000 for an associate professor, $68,000 for an assistant professor, $56,000 for a lecturer and almost $54,000 for unranked positions, according to data from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Kent State, in comparison to these national averages, often falls at or below these numbers in various positions.

The median household income for Ohioans is $49,644, which is comparable to many of the average salaries at Kent State, such as business and finance staff, health professionals and instructors.

Other positions at the university, such as professors, associate professors and assistant professors and administrators, all make above the median household income.

“If you were to look at Kent State averages versus the national averages we’re just going to be low, because these stars, these super stars at Harvard, Chicago, etc. — they are really making that,” Kent State assistant professor of economics Justin Barnette said. “They are the Bill Gates in terms of professors, and I’m guessing we don’t have that at Kent State.”

The cost of living in Ohio is lower than some other states in the country, at an estimated $17,567 annual required income after taxes for one adult living in Portage County.

Barnette said that it is also important to take into account that salaries in a business are often determined from outside opportunities.

“In economics, we tend to think of pay being determined by two things. One, theoretically, is this idea of ‘what are you contributing to the business,’ or in this case, ‘what are you contributing to the university.’ But in a marketplace like this, that is really broad,” Barnette said. “It’s really hard to measure what you are contributing. So, the other thing you look at is outside opportunities, what are the outside opportunities that these professors or administrators have outside the university.”

William Sledzik, spokesperson for AAUP-KSU, said when contracts are negotiated for faculty, incomes and data from other comparable schools, like Bowling Green and Ohio University, are examined to help determine salaries.

“The union will come up with salary and benefits they think they deserve based on comparable institutions and past data,” he said.

Maintenance, construction, office administrative support and service positions all make under $36,000 annually.  

Grace Goodluck, chair of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and the Ohio Student Association, said she feels student workers and others on campus don’t currently earn enough, after the group partnered with the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees (AFSCME) during the re-contracting process.

“Even though the cost of living is Ohio is much lower, the amount that they are getting paid is still not proportionate to our cost of living, and then especially when you look at the kind of profit that a university like Kent State is making, their salaries, the amount they are making is not proportionate to that either,” she said.

Barnette also said the income for these positions has to do with a basic supply and demand issue, as these types of jobs often don’t have a lot of specific requirements.

Sledzik said he feels every contract they’ve negotiated with the university, including the most recent one, has resulted in relatively fair agreements.

“Everybody has a bottom line that includes us and the university,” Sledzik said.

Olivia Minnier is an administration reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]