March 31, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 95  

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EDITORIAL

Too much bling for profs?

Do professors get paid too much?

The annual list of salaries documenting professors (and other employed individuals) who earn upwards of $100,000 per year was released on Monday, making this question a hot topic.

Some students may wonder whether or not professors are actually earning their salaries. While there are undeniably some great, enthusiastic professors out there, there are also a number of apathetic, ineffective individuals who seem to care little about student progress. Yet the difference in salary between the best and worst does little to compensate for this.

There are a number of issues to consider when attempting to determine whether or not professors should be exceeding the hundred thousand salary mark.

For starters, higher-paying jobs are more likely to attract high-quality professors. After all, why would a qualified prof take a job for $50,000 at Western if the University of Toronto offered $100,000? It simply wouldn’t make sense.

In addition, research is a huge factor with regard to professors’ salaries. Aside from teaching duties, professors are expected to work on many additional tasks, such as conducting research, writing books and publishing academic articles.

At the same time, however, professors’ primary responsibility and accountability should be to the students — shouldn’t it? Students fork out thousands of dollars each year in tuition to help pay professors’ salaries, yet it seems as though student feedback does little to determine how much professors are getting paid.

The only real avenue for mass student feedback consists of course evaluations that are completed near the end of each term, which allow students a chance to rate their professors and overall course experience.

The results of these evaluations are posted online, and in theory professors should be concerned with how they are perceived by students. However, considering the fact that only 40 per cent of a professor’s job is devoted to teaching — the other 40 is allotted to research, with 20 per cent left over for administrative details — how much do these evaluations really phase professors?

When it comes down to it, professors should be here for the students. Research is important, but ensuring students receive the best education possible should warrant the same amount of attention.
Though it may be unrealistic, it would be nice to see salaries more closely tied to student feedback. To oversimplify, bad professors should not make as much as good ones.

As long as checks and balances are implemented to ensure professors do not dish out “A”s just to get better evaluations, a system that ties promotions and bonuses to better teaching capabilities — as opposed to only research — could definitely work.

 

 

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