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
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. …