SAMANTHA HOLLEY ’19
Trinity College is currently in the process of increasing faculty salaries. According to Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs Timothy Cresswell, the salary increases are due to a realized disparity in the salaries of Assistant Professors as they relate to Trinity’s peer group, schools also in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). A topic that has been discussed for many years, the salary adjustments began last year and have continued this year.
In 2015, the average effective annual salary for Trinity College assistant professors was $99,641. This is in the lower range of salaries when compared to other NESCAC schools. Wesleyan University tops out the list at $113,350 assistant professor annual salary. Additionally, Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, and Tufts University all have assistant professor annual salaries in the $100,000s. Trinity College, Bates College, and Connecticut College are the only NESCAC schools with salaries in the $90,000s.
This puts Trinity below the median salary rates for Assistant Professors. In an email responding to questions pertaining to the reasons behind salary increases, Cresswell wrote, “Trinity College has a long standing commitment to ensuring that our faculty pay is at the median (or better) of our comparison group. We noticed that the assistant professors had fallen quite a way below the median last year.”
Many students and faculty see the professor raises as a way to increase Trinity’s US World News and Report Ranking, as they factor in faculty salaries in their ranking formula. Trinity is tied with Occidental College as #44 in National Liberal Arts Colleges. This is a significantly higher-numbered ranking than most of the other NESCAC schools, with the exception of Connecticut College, ranked #46, and Tufts University, which is not ranked as a National Liberal Arts College. Trinity’s ranking has fallen several spots from its 2013 ranking of #36.
When interviewed about the influence of rankings on Trinity’s decision to increase salaries, Associate Professor of History and American Studies Scott Gac said that, while Trinity would like to improve its rankings, salary increases has been a matter on the agenda of Trinity’s administration for years, not realized until now due to economic factors. The salary increases are a way to decrease the disparity in faculty pay relative to peer institutions. He did note that Trinity’s drop in rankings provides further political motivation to increase wages, as trustees would like to see Trinity’s ranking improve.
When asked via email if the US World News ranking had any influence on Trinity’s decision to raise professor salaries, Cresswell said that the salary increase process began before the rankings came out, thus predating the rankings. He stated that “The rankings were simply a useful reminder.”
At President Berger-Sweeney’s Annual Address to Faculty, she said that faculty medians should “aspire to medians” in reference to Trinity’s peers. This suggests that Trinity wishes to put its faculty salaries staunchly in the middle of the salaries of other NESCAC institution.