Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

Twelve-Month and Nine-Month Agricultural Economics Faculty Salaries

Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

Twelve-Month and Nine-Month Agricultural Economics Faculty Salaries

Article excerpt

Ever more agricultural economics departments are offering appointments for nine rather than twelve months but little if any analysis of the impact of this change has been done. Our research shows that converting to nine-month contracts is an effective way to raise salaries without an initial outlay of new funds and thus meets the retention criterion. Lower ranks do not suffer significantly lower salaries (without supplements] and professors earn more. Because the nine- month alternative costs more, justification for converting all twelve-month faculty members must rest on other factors, such as enhanced grants or comparability.

Key Words: budget management, converting faculty appointments, enhancing grants, faculty salaries, hiring, retention, salaries, twelve-month and nine-month appointments

Universities and colleges of agriculture are struggling to deal with reduced funding from federal and state sources. Costs at universities are escalating while hard-money funds are diminishing. Hence, departments are looking at ways to save money in virtually all aspects of university operations. Departments that do not keep pace with cost savings or income enhancements could lose productive faculty members to departments that find ways to save money and pay their professors higher salaries.

A potentially affordable and feasible approach to faculty retention is to convert the faculty from twelve-month to nine-month appointments. Many agricultural economics departments1 around the country have already taken this step. University of Illinois, for example, had switched entirely to nine- month appointments by at least 2005, and by 2011, 90 percent of faculty positions in Arizona, Maryland, and Wisconsin were for nine months. This analysis investigates how hard-money compensation for faculty members on nine-month salaries compares with that of faculty members on twelve- month salaries using data collected from thirteen Ph.D.-granting agricultural economics departments (see Table 1] over a seven-year span. We note that these thirteen departments' experiences with nine-month appointments may not be representative of all agricultural economics departments.

Administrators must consider numerous issues when contemplating converting faculty members from twelve- to nine-month appointments. Among them are needs to increase incentives for generating extramural funding, identify a mechanism for rewarding productive faculty members, and save money for the department. We look specifically at whether the move to nine- month appointments will save departments money in the short-term and/or long-term and whether conversion should be offered to everyone or be used only for retention.

We analyze salary and qualitative data collected from a group of agricultural economics departments as well as related literature to provide insight for the academic decision-making community. In particular, we are interested in what can be said about incentives for faculty members to convert to nine-month appointments, risks related to supplementing nine-month appointments, and administrative motivations for offering faculty the opportunity to convert as interpreted by the chairs of the departments included in our study. Clearly, deans and university administrators play key roles in offering nine-month appointments and in setting related policies, conditions, and guidelines. They make the basic decision as to whether nine-month appointments exist at a given institution. But department chairs understand the reasons behind instituting nine-month appointments. Thus, we capture their perspectives. They were on the front lines of the conversion, could see the direct impact of offering a nine-month alternative, and can provide some hint as to how and why the nine- month alternative was instituted.

Previous Research

Research on nine-month faculty appointments began in the early 1990s after University of Illinois' agricultural economics department began moving that direction. …

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