UVa Raises Salaries Despite Budget Cuts

A new weblog, WahooPundit (“The first weblog by and for students of the University of Virginia”), reports that faculty salaries have increased, despite Governor Warner’s order to universities to cut spending due to the budget crunch. WahooPundit claims that their analysis of the Annual Survey of Faculty Salaries shows a 0.38% increase in salaries across the board, which seems reasonable. However, says WahooPundit, the top 50 professors accounted for an impressive 95% of the raises, with increases of tens or hundreds of dollars.

37 thoughts on “UVa Raises Salaries Despite Budget Cuts”

  1. Posted at 6:30PM? I think your computer’s clock is off a bit, Waldo. :)

    The time zone handling is way screwy with PostNuke. Looks like my recent tinkering has paid off, if you saw 6:30pm. I’ve changed the site time zone from -12 GMT (wherever that is) to -5 GMT (or EST), and I’ll toggle all user accounts that are set to -12 GMT to -5 GMT. Thanks for mentioning it!

  2. Thanks for the great link to the list of faculty salaries. Now I know how much my neighbors make. Also, my future choice of classes will take into consideration the size of the salary the professor is making. Costs me the same to take a class by someone making $50k a year vs $150k, and I like value for money. Yes, I know salary isn’t necessarily involved in a causal relationship with quality, but in the absence of a well-contrived student rating system, salaries and publications are the best variables publicly available.


  3. FYI, some of us University employees had to choose between taking a bonus or extra comp time, instead of raises this year. (It was strongly suggested that we take the time, of course.)

  4. No dispute over your statement.

    However, my guess is that the 99.999% of UVa employees who got nothing would probably argue that they are talented, too.

  5. Well, this isn’t this year’s salaries, I bet those are set from last fiscal year, 2001-2002. From a quick read of the salaries, these are predominantly medical professors. If you look at their specialties, you will see that their areas of expertise are fairly lucractive and/or they have a substantial number of NIH grants.

    For example:

    John Jane, Mark Saffrey, Neal Kassel (neurosurgery)

    Kron, Sarembock, Gimple, Eric Powers, Ragosta (cardiology)

    Pruett (transplant surgery)

    Marshall (endocrine — he has a lot of NIH grants that’s publicized within UVa)

    Maria Kelly is with Radiological Oncology

    Carl Zeithaml is with McIntire

    Scott is at the Law School

    Robert Harris at Darden

    I’m sure that some of this money for the physicians and probably for the others too are supplemented by foundations and not strictly out of the UVa budget. There’s the Health System Foundation which can probably supplement salaries and there’s a foundation for the Law School, Darden and McIntire, I’m sure.

    I’m not excusing but explaining. You can be sure that in the medical center side, those departments or divisions who can generate money (and receive it from Medicare, insurance companies, etc.) will be sitting a lot prettier than those who can’t. Consider ER with lots of uninsured patients vs. liver dialysis centers for example. Those who can generate income will be okay; those who can’t will suffer.

  6. Actually, someone where I works did a cost analysis and it turns out that it costs the state more to do the time off vs. the one time bonus. Another employee confirmed this as well. I still took the money….

  7. I would tend to agree, but I think from the high-falutin’ management viewpoint, they’re probably also cheaper to replace.

    Like me.

  8. I think the difference is that one costs cash, while the other only costs productivity. It’s hard to pay your debtors with productivity.

  9. Um.

    Greenwich Mean Time.

    Smartass. :)

    It’s the -12 GMT that I wasn’t sure where it was. I’m pretty clear on the Greenwich thing. :)

  10. Cheaper to replace yes, and not all that likely to need replacing anyway. The university isn’t the only one strapped for cash. Lousy time to be looking for a job.

  11. Yeah, like Lafe said. Time off costs nothing – they already have to pay you a set amount. It’s only when you go above and beyond the set salary that it costs anything. This is why they made the time off seem more tempting, by offering more time relative to the bonus amount.

  12. Hey, it looks like I may be rowing against current here. BUT although I find the report interesting, I also find even more interesting the lack of outrage or at least open dissent amongst our readers. In fact, I think U.S. citizens, as a group, have been brain-washed by capitalist propaganda.

    And, before someone inevitably misunderstands my own position, I do feel capitalism is the best way humanity knows how to organize society at this time. I also am singularly opinionated on the misconceptions and idiosyncrasies of said socio-economic system. In this instance, the dogmatic belief some at higher employment levels should be paid multiple times what more mundane positioned employees. This is absurd. An owner or otherwise investor whose capital is directly at risk by the operation of the subject organization should indeed be the recipient of any and all rewards commensurate with the exposure. Employees however, such as the professors and administrative heads discussed in the article, should not be entitled to the obscene compensation packages we are witnessing. There is absolutely no way the Dean is worth 10, maybe 20 times the value of a first year professor.

    I know this can generate (and degenerate) into subjective and less subjective argumentation. But by and large, common sense is absent within much of our modern economic systems. The boom and crash cycles are accelerating. Witness the insane Internet and “New Economy” boom-time. Pay attention to the Management and Ethics collapse engaged since the 80’s and only now showing signs of its true nature.

    But rather than being so abstract, let me ask the “believers” out there: when the Medical department loses money in 2010 or some other year in the future, because of some inevitable bonehead decisions by the highly paid today, do we ask for a refund of those high salaries? What? You say there’s no mechanism in place for that contingency? Why not? I know of common folk that get fired all the time in other areas of the economy for almost nothing. What makes these top paid employees so special? As far as I can tell, many are autocratic idiots (and I have and do meet quite a few regularly).

  13. Skipping over some of the juicier and more debatable bits in your post…

    Employees however, such as the professors and administrative heads discussed in the article, should not be entitled to the obscene compensation packages we are witnessing. There is absolutely no way the Dean is worth 10, maybe 20 times the value of a first year professor.

    That’s quite an opinion. But on what do you base it?

    Is this a case of wishful thinking? “I don’t want this dean to be worth more than someone else.” Or do you have something more concrete to build this from?

    I think the reason that most of these people are paid so much more is because they have spent the time to learn skills that you won’t find in 99.99% of the rest of the population. Neural surgeons are not a dime-a-dozen. Nor are a number of the other people listed. They’ve put in their time, and a tremendous amount of work, to get where they are. Why should they not be paid accordingly more?

    Disclaimer: I know none of the people listed as having received raises, so I do not have first-hand knowledge of how well they do or do not deserve their compensation.

  14. "Employees however, such as the professors and administrative heads discussed in the article, should not be entitled to the obscene compensation packages we are witnessing."

    Though I agree with many of your points in this post, I think it’s a little odd to talk about "obscene compensation packages" in regards to university employees. In the great scheme of things, there’s a lot more compensation-related obscenity taking place in corporations. Academe is notorious for NOT compensating people in ways that measure up to private-sector compensation. In fact, that’s why you get the great salary imbalances between the top med/law/biz school profs and the, say, humanities profs–because universities are trying to stay near the same compensation ballpark that those folks could play in if they left academe.

  15. First of all, let me respond to your comment that you believe many of these people earning an obscenely amount of money are autocratic idiots…you might be right. How long do you think it takes someone to become a neurosurgeon? Do you want a happy nice doctor who might be not be the top of his or her game or someone who is extremely good at their job? I don’t even know myself but I know of a coworker whose husband was in the GENERAL surgery program and he was there for 7 years — more if he wanted to specialize in thoracic or brain or any other specialty. As for the other physicians on this list, I am quite confident that these people are at the top of their field either as a clinical physician or researcher. (Translated: They can pick up and move on somewhere else for more money,etc.) I also might add that many of the physicians on this list are also responsible for teaching fellows, residents and interns skills to go out in the big old world and practice medicine.

    And, since you know SO MUCH about hospitals and the medical field, I am curious as to what you think are the reasons for departments to lose money? Being an employee, one reason might be uninsured patients who must be treated whether or not they can pay. Do you want to tell some 15 year old that she can’t deliver her premature baby b/c she has no insurance? Or anyone in the Emergency Room? Or anyone who is psychotic and ends up in the psych ward for observation? You might be surprised at who does and doesn’t have medical insurance (or even what it covers — one friend has a $5000 deductible) if you could get off your high horse about capital and risk. I’m sure that there is waste in the medical center but I would bet the farm that the overwhelming problem is providing services to uninsured patients (Medical Intensive Care Units don’t come cheap) as well as underinsured patients (think Medicare and my friend with the $5000 deductible). But from what I’m reading, you don’t even have a clue about what you are writing about. If you have a problem with one of the dean’s, just take it up with him or her and/or their supervisor.

    BTW, you’re not the guy who wrote the letter in Cav Daily complaining about the fact that he has to clean his own bathroom and wants his money back from UVa as they committed fraud, are you? Just curious.

  16. Indeed, my opinions are quite contrasting, apparently, in this forum. Nevertheless, they are not formed soley to shock but are in fact passionate.

    You ask for concrete "thinking" as opposed to "wishful" then go onto the standard American dogma that "neural surgeons put in their time and tremendous amount of work to get where they are" bit.

    Okay, so following that reasoning, how about the clergyman who dedicates his entire life to theology and philosophy? Of course, he’s not ‘supposed’ to be compensated for all his arduous efforts, because it’s ‘only’ religion. Then, what about the daycare-giver that spends often more time learning and practicing real-world childcare skills than the typical neural surgeon spends on [bad] bed-manners? It can be argued that the daycare giver is in fact multiple times more valuable to society than your “save a few rich folk” PhD. Yet these people often don’t even make enough money to rise above real-poverty.

    How about the starving artist that dedicates her entire life to the pursuit of creativity and spirituality? She doesn’t have a 6,000 square foot mansion to return to once a few operations are performed. I know personally culinary Chefs that have dedicated their entire lives to culturally rich practical and theoretical knowledge that far outweighs the complexity of a state-of-the-art neural surgeon!

    In fact, I’ll argue that many of these so-called PhDs are in fact mere specialized technicians. The few times I have been exposed to these “specialty doctors”, I find them more often inept as human beings and pretentious. Take them out of their guarded domains and their ‘formidable intellectual auras’ collapse under the most mundane exposure.

    Back to my point: there’s nothing wrong with a surgeon or faculty dean making GOOD money. There’s something very wrong with them making 10 or 15 times what the experienced nurses (the ones that do most of the actual medical care) are making.

    Wahoo Pundit states Robert Harris (Dean’s Office) received a $218,000 raise. That increase alone is around 6 times what a seasoned public high-school teacher makes! This is complete and utter non-sense!

  17. I tend to agree with what you seem to be saying, that academia is often shunned when the time comes to compensate them for their merit. However, although I have no problem with a veteran history prof making $80K, but I do object to administrative heads making above $150K. For instance, Wahoo Pundit states Robert Harris (Dean’s Office) received a $218,000 raise. That increase alone is around 6 times what a seasoned public high-school teacher makes! This is complete and utter non-sense! (repeat textual from another post I left earlier).

  18. By the way, you wouldn’t be one of those privileged few who can afford *medical insurance*, are you? Or is it the surgeon you are *mingling with* that picks up the tab for you? Just checkin’!

  19. You’ve got a good point–there are ridiculous imbalances within academe, where perfectly good, seasoned teachers get paid radically less than lousy teachers who happen to do famous research. And when you compare it to public school teachers (secondary and elementary), it gets obscene.

  20. Oh, Sympatico! You poor thing. When faced with some hard questions, you go for a gutter ball. Sorry, baby, but I did work over there and the fact you think that "mingling" means something naughty just shows your mindset. Now, get your pseudo libertarian or whatever kind of mind you have out of your pants and try answering my post. By the way, yes, I have health insurance. If you had read my note, you will realize that I worked over there so I would have it. I don’t see why I should feel guilty for signing up for health insurance as part of my job. I bet you would in a flash. (Note: Flash means fast, not something in a park involving a trench coat.)

    Now, rather than turn this into a snipe-fest, why don’t you answer my question on how the medical center can save some money. Or, are you the kind of person who would turn away poor people from the hospital who can’t pay? Or, do you support some kind of universal health care plan? That’s my point. But I bet you won’t come up with anything. You’re just the kind of person who wants to rant and moan and ***** about someone and stir the pot rather than come up with any ideas. So let’s hear your ideas of saving money. (Oh, and I think that Student Health is considered part of the Medical Center so that should give you something to consider. I’m not picking on them but I suspect that Sympatico is just a bored UVa student or ex-UVa student so he/she might know something about this and could make some suggestions.)

  21. How about the starving artist that dedicates her entire life to the pursuit of creativity and spirituality? She doesn’t have a 6,000 square foot mansion to return to once a few operations are performed. I know personally culinary Chefs that have dedicated their entire lives to culturally rich practical and theoretical knowledge that far outweighs the complexity of a state-of-the-art neural surgeon!

    You’re mistaking what I was saying. I’m not saying they get compensated for dedicating their life to (in this example) neurosurgery. Rather, they are compensated for being one of 20 people in the U.S. that can perform a needed life-saving operation, or one of 10 people in the U.S. that can teach other people how to perform said operation. They’re paid for the skill that they have that relatively few other people have.

    In the case of the artist, priest, day-care worker, or even nurse the professions are not necessarily rare ones. Their skills are not as exacting, nor specialized, thus “market forces,” which you likely despise, result in their compensation being lower, or at least partially non-monetary (in the case of the priest).

    In fact, I’ll argue that many of these so-called PhDs are in fact mere specialized technicians. The few times I have been exposed to these “specialty doctors”, I find them more often inept as human beings and pretentious. Take them out of their guarded domains and their ‘formidable intellectual auras’ collapse under the most mundane exposure.

    These guys (and I’ve known a few specialty doctors) are not paid for their bedside manner, nor how liberal their education is. Most of them (in my experience) are boors with gigantic egos. But if I need someone to cut on my brain, you can guess that I’m not gonna choose them based on their personality. I’m gonna choose them based on their skills. Period. I’m willing to bet that that’s exactly the same reasoning used by their bosses.

    Your reasoning is saying that someone that has such a specialized knowledge should be compensated in the same (approximate) range as someone who squeaked by with a BS in education. I just don’t buy it. My feeling on the subject is that someone like my theoretical neurosurgeon does, in fact, deserve 10 to 20 times the compensation of someone like the squeaky BS educator.

    I can’t argue about these specific, real-life people, because I don’t know their situations… so I am only arguing against your reasoning. Not these specific cases. But it sounds to me as if you’re scoffing at their skills as well as presenting a very socialist idea that even if they are that skilled, they should get the same as everyone else.

    Do you know these people personally? Are you alleging that they do not, in fact, have specialized skills? Or just that you don’t want them to earn higher compensation that the rest of us?

  22. Lafe, I have said and will restate here again that people are entitled and in fact need to be compensated in commensuration with their expertise, knowledge, and yes, market value. If a surgeon on the list can realistically command a 6-figure compensation package, then that is at it should be. As an example of this, I’ll propose myself, as I am fairly well paid within my own specialty because of a relatively rarified capability combination (computer scientist with minors in user interface design, corporate financial analysis and accounting).

    My problem is two-fold: first and foremost there is a dissonance between perceived value and real value. To me, for example, most medical specialists are overrated because they benefit from our culture’s unrealistic expectation of science and technology.

    My second problem is with the very many “big cheeses” that are not particularly well qualified, but have squeaked through the trials and probes due to artificial parameters such as socio-political and other influences. Collegiate administrators and many tenured faculty members are often to be found within this segment. Board of directors, corporate CEOs, CFOs, MBA marketing officers, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. Enron anyone? How about Worldcom or Vivendi-Universal?

    The bottom line: those in power often abuse that power for their own personal gain. The U.S. is the largest economy and the most powerful single nation on the planet today (and for the last 60 years). Power breeds decadence and the announcement of compensation increases at UVA, for the few, within the context of decreases for the many, is a sure sign of decadence.

    IMHO, of course :-)

  23. My point exactly. Obscenity is defined by Merriam-Webster as “abhorrent to morality or virtue”. The [escalating] departure from virtue in politics, economics, society and philosophy in our world today is where I get my energy to dissent.

  24. Well, because you ask so nicely: yes, I do support a universal health care system. Private insurers and uncontrolled rivalry between hospitals are dysfunctional because they foster competitive behavioral approaches not on price but on wasteful availability of resources and market domination. These two issues alone are responsible for multi-billion dollar dissipation and are on the forefront of the long list of unnecessary costs passed along to the public.

    But aren’t we just slightly off topic, eh?

  25. Ok, so your short answer is “I don’t want them to make that much, because I don’t think they’re worth it.”

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. :)

  26. No, and your disingenuous hacking at my opinion shows your real colors, I guess. But, if you absolutely require the sound-bite version to comprehend, here it is:

    1. Large, often obscene, compensation packages for employed individuals take away substantial and sorely needed monies from the pool of affairs;

    2. I promotes a disengagement from the issues the majority of people confront on a daily basis and therefore decisions brought forth by the privileged few are invariably ineffectual and detrimental (I believe I used the term ‘bonehead’ in an earlier post);

    3. It creates an atmosphere of distrust and unhealthy relations;

    4. Therefore, injustice or unfairness in the most essential part of people’s lives, i.e. their livelihood, is the source of incalculable amounts of correlated trouble in other domains, such as crime and punishment, quality of life, etc.;

    5. It’s simply wrong-spirited.

    Thanks for your [ephemeral] attention.

  27. My true colors, eh? I’m just trying to get you to argue your point with reasoning, instead of just more opinion. You haven’t defended your opinion once, simply re-stated it. Let’s try again.

    1. Please define “pool of affairs”, and please offer some reasoning to back this position up.

    2. You are saying that every person that receives a large amount of compensation is a bonehead? Incompetent? Again, it’s an opinion, not to mention a gross generalization.

    3. The fact that some people recieve more money than others creates an atmosphere of distrust and unhealthy relations? Everyone getting the same amount of money would be better? Please offer some reasoning or evidence to back this up.

    4. The fact that a neurosurgeon gets 20 times more money than a (typical) web designer is injust? Why? Obviously you feel this is true, you’ve said it repeatedly. But back it up, please.

    5. Differences in pay-scale is wrong-spirited? Again, why? What would be better, and how do you reach that conclusion?

    You are welcome for my attention. I await your reasoning.

  28. Obviously, there’s a mistmatch between us. I say ‘A’ and you say I said ‘Z’. Or is it vice-versa? Oh heck, you win.

    Bye now!

  29. In spite of the slicing, dicing and appeals to a need to retain talent, what I noticed is that there is one woman among the top 15 listed. Her raise constitutes a pinch more than 1/100 of a percent of this batch of raises. 99.987% of this $1,035,000 acrrues to men.

    If actions speak, UVA is saying its male employees are some 76 times as talented as the females; I’ve yet to see it demonstrated.

    I do wonder if this is even legal.

  30. No, I don’t view a debate as being about “winning.” I just look for convincing reasoning, or argument, for a stated position.

    You were stating a lot of things that were your opinions as fact, or as given, and I simply don’t believe that they are. I’m not trying to “win” anything, I just want you to clarify so we can debate the true issues. :)

    If what you are stating is purely opinion, it’s best to label it as such. That way people don’t misunderstand you, as I did, when I assumed you were trying to make factual statements.

  31. You strike me as very youthful, Lafe. Your expressed notion of what constitutes “fact” and “opinion” is, I’ll call it, a work in progress. This whole discussion is based on opinions. The facts, for their part, are unusually straight-forward:

    1. Some people within a same context earn multiple times what others earn. And with ‘multiple’, I mean anywhere up to probably 50 times the income of a typical Joe earning $28K;

    2. Many of aforementioned top tier of income earners are not owners or have other veritable risk-based forms of personal fund investments.

    Those are the two most important facts (IMHO). Here are the 3 most meaningful questions subject to our opinions (IMHO also):

    1. Do the recipients of the big incomes *deserve* them?

    2. Are they earning in commensuration with market values or are there other veiled forces at play?

    3. What is good for society?

    IMHO, we are fortunate with this discussion, since there are plenty of issues out there that provide positive responses to questions 1 and 2, yet are not “good” for society.

    However, with the subject at hand, I feel that the number 1 question can all too often be responded to negatively. In my experience (and IMHO), there are many many individuals whose true intellect, capacities and most importantly, dedication and work, are way out of whack with what they earn. IMHO, of course.

    To lay at rest those who dislike my opinion, I have to admit I do not personally know the individuals mentioned in the WahooPundit report, but I have met and dealt with several of their peers.

    The second question is much more involved and can get very sticky by its very nature, but I doubt anyone can seriously defend, without a smirk on their faces, the position that compensation committees at the helm of our American institutions and corporations today are universally transparent and well-intentioned (again, subjective and opinionated terms).

    Lastly, incomes between fellow citizens of similar education, workloads and environments cannot possibly stand up to scrutiny when they are so disproportionate. And is UVA not a public entity? It’s very foundation and goal should be to promote, foster and disseminate knowledge for the benefit of all. But, IMHO, when the few are allowed to grab the lion’s share of available public funds for their own personal benefit, particularly in a year where budget cuts are being made that readily hinder the very Purpose of the Institution these “fat cats” (IMHO) are allegedly serving, then there is a definitive problem (IMHO, of course).

    Now you do not seem to like my opinion, and that’s okay. It is not formed just to be dissenting, but it is based on the opinion I have when observing the facts at hand. I also believe that exposing my point of view is good because I feel not enough Americans are using their kanoodle when it comes to intelligent introspection of our own society and mores.

  32. I’m just curious how you can criticize my distinction between fact and opinion, and then turn around and say that you do not know the facts in this case.

    What you have written indicates that the only thing you have to offer this discussion is opinion, and are at last labeling it as such.

    As I said before, everyone is entitled to their opinion. :)

    The facts are that you do not know these people, and cannot say that they are, or are not, over-compensated. Only that you feel that they are over-compensated.

  33. Wow, at least now, we both know where we stand on this issue: Essentially, to simplify, we all know *you* have all the facts and *I* have all the opinions [now clearly indicated as such for your convenience].

    Boy, we should have just started there and this wouldn’t have been so difficult. Also, in the future, take note of my alias, Sympatico, and just discount my posts as pure opinion only. Is that square enough for ya? :-)

  34. Hmmm, did I at any point claim to have all the facts?

    It hasn’t been my aim to create any sort of hostility with you. I wanted a civil debate, based on issues. It’s looking like that’s not going to be possible between us, at least on this topic. Maybe next time.

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