Community College Makes Grade on Pay Professors Here Earn Extra Money by Teaching More Classes

Article excerpt

Again this school year, Richard Baker expects to earn more than $70,000 as a history professor and chairman of the history department at St. Louis Community College at Meramec.

The college pays one in 10 of its full-time teachers that much or more in a combination of base and extra pay. And almost one in 20 makes more than $75,000 a year.

That makes Baker and his colleagues some of the best-paid college professors in the St. Louis area. They've come to that distinction mostly by staying many years in their jobs and by teaching extra classes.

Baker, 58, joined the college in 1967. He has a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees and a doctorate. His 28 years of experience and his four degrees qualify him for a base salary of $59,152 this year, the highest the college is paying. Fifty of its 443 full-time professors are earning that amount.

Baker adds to that base salary by teaching more classes than the college requires. Usually, he says, this means volunteering for summer school, which is outside the college's 36-week, or two-semester, contract with its teachers.

Unlike four-year schools, community colleges commonly offer professors this chance to teach "overload" and even encourage them to do so.

St. Louis Community College lets teachers take on up to 18 extra credits - about six courses - a year. For the add-ons, the professors are paid about half the rate of their regular load.

For most, the regular load is 15 credit hours, or about five courses, a semester.

That's typical at community colleges, where teachers put in more classroom time than at four-year schools. At the University of Missouri, for example, the standard is three courses a semester.

That's because at the University of Missouri, as at most four-year schools, professors must do research or risk losing raises, promotions, even their jobs. At community colleges, on the other hand, the pressure to "publish or perish" doesn't apply.

"Our teachers come principally because they want to teach," said Richard Black, president of St. Louis Community College at Meramec. "We're a teaching institution. We're not a research institution."

For just their required work alone, St. Louis Community College paid its full-time faculty members an average base salary of $46,101 last year, compared with a national average of $41,230 for public two-year colleges. The figures come from the American Association of University Professors' latest annual survey of college faculty salaries.

The survey found that teachers at four-year schools get higher salaries than those at two-year schools and that teachers at large schools out-earn those at smaller ones. …