How FAU Prioritizes Its Money

UFF-FAU is pleased to present a new study commissioned from the Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy at Florida International University. The report, “How FAU Prioritizes Its Money,” locates disturbing trends in Florida Atlantic University’s personnel and salary-related budgeting priorities. Taken as a whole, these suggest a developing inability for the institution to adequately service the academic needs of its growing student body.

For example, between 2006 and 2012 Florida resident-students choosing to attend FAU are paying more than 60% more in tuition. At the same time the student-to-faculty ratio rose by an astounding 19% while administrative positions grew by 12%. In the same period faculty salaries have also decreased, making it more difficult to attract and retain capable instructional and research staff.

The study’s findings indicate how Florida Atlantic’s overall budget is more heavily weighed toward administrative largesse than the university’s overall scholarly and research mission.

Read/download the entire study here.

From the Executive Summary:

This report analyzes how FAU prioritizes its resources on personnel and salaries over the decade between 2006 and 2012. While enrollment and tuition grew, faculty size was increased at a rate too slow to overcome increases in student to faculty ratios. Faculty inflation adjusted salaries were stagnant or regressing by 2012. Meanwhile, the numbers of administrators grew at a faster rate than faculty growth, and executive level administrators’ salaries increased significantly compared to both inflation and faculty salaries. During the same period and under the same budget cuts, many executive level administrators’ salaries increased significantly.

Growth in Student Enrollment

In 2012 the number of student FTE’s at FAU was 57.9% of the total headcount of students, while at FSU and UNF student FTE was 67.9% and 63% respectively of total headcount. The lower student FTE but higher student headcount at PSU is likely explained by a higher percentage of part-time students at FAU than at either FSU or UNF.

Growth in Student Tuition and Expenses

Over the past seven years it became increasingly expensive for students to attend FAU. Between 2006 and 2012 the cost of tuition and fees increased 60.8% for resident undergraduates.[1]  2012 rates for tuition and fees for resident undergraduates were 74.5% higher than in 2001.

Change in Faculty Composition

In this study we distinguish between faculty members who are Tenured/Tenure Track and those who are non-Tenured/Tenure Track faculty because there is a difference in salary and composition of these two groups.

Since 2006, the composition of the faculty as represented by the bargaining unit data has changed due to fewer Tenured/Tenure Track faulty and more non-Tenured/Tenure Track faculty.

The total number of Tenured/Tenure Track faculty decreased by 2% over past seven years but the number of non-Tenured/Tenure Track faculty increased by 2.6%, due in part to the drop in numbers of Tenured/Tenure Track Assistant Professors and increase in non-Tenured/Tenure Track Visiting Faculty.

Student to Faculty Ratios

When measured by headcounts, student to faculty ratios are high by national standards. When we use FTE as a proxy for full-time students and faculty, the ratio appears only somewhat better.

Between 2006 and 2012 student faculty ratio worsened by 19% when looking at student and faculty headcounts, and by 19.8%% when measured using FTE.

Considering the steady tuition raises over the decade, it appears that FAU students are getting fewer teaching faculty for what they are paying. This trend suggests that they may also be attending larger classes. However, the university is being staffed by an ever-growing number of non-teaching staff, many of whom provide direct services to students.

Faculty Salaries

Tenured/Tenure Track Faculty

Average salaries for Tenured/Tenure Track faculty have remained relatively flat or declined over the past seven years. On average, Tenured/Tenure Track faculty experienced an overall salary decline of 8.9% between 2006 and 2012. Professors suffered the least as the losses were concentrated in the salaries of Associate and Assistant Professors.

Non-Tenured/Tenure Track Faculty

Average annual salaries of FAU non-Tenured/Tenure Track faculty suffered even greater losses between 2006 and 2012. Average salaries declined by 15.9% for Instructors/Lecturers/Scholars and Visiting Faculty.

Numbers of Administrators

The number of employees at all ranks of administration is growing. Between 2006 and 2012, the total number of Administrators not in the bargaining unit increased 12.4%.

Between 2006 and 2012 the number of Administrators increased by 16 positions, mainly because of the growth in Directors. In light of increases in student enrollment the growth in number of Administrators does not suggest overt administrative bloat. But, the same may not be said for some of their salaries.

Administrative Growth Compared to Faculty Growth

The number of Administrators grew by 12.4% between 2006 and 2012, while the number of faculty members decreased by 0.8%.

Perhaps a better comparison of growth priorities in an institution committed to serving students is Student to Administrator Ratios vs Student to Faculty Ratios. The Student to Administrator Ratios worsened over the past seven years by 5.1%. In contrast the Student to Faculty ratio worsened by 19%; this counts all faculty combined.

Salaries of Administrators

Most Administrators saw relatively stagnant or considerable increases in average annual salaries between 2006 and 2012.

Similarly, the growth in average annual salary of the Associate and Assistant Provosts, Directors, and Deans saw the greatest increases. Conversely, the FAU President suffered the greatest loss of salary.

Faculty Salaries Compared to Administrator Salaries

Comparing the salary growth figures of FAU Faculty to those of FAU Administrators over the past seven years clearly indicates that the Administrators’ salaries have stayed well above inflation, while Faculty salaries have not.

FAU Faculty Salaries Compared to Peer Institutions

Average salaries for Full, Associate, and Assistant Professors at FAU are closer to the average salaries for those ranks at Master’s level universities than for the same ranks at Doctoral Universities.

In short, FAU administrators’ salaries are increasing, while those of faculty are significantly below comparable institutions and are barely keeping up with or falling behind inflation.

Read/download the entire study here.

[1] Percentage increases calculated from tuition and fees reported in the State University System of Florida (SUSF) tuition and fees data set ( Tuition and fees include tuition, and universal resource, building, incidental, health services, and recreation center fees.