Paul L. Caron

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Faculty Salary Game

Mark Fenster (Florida) at PrawfsBlawg discusses an interesting article in Inside Higher Ed, The Faculty Salary Game, by John Lombardi (Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts).  The article notes that faculty who feel they are underpaid can demonstate their market value by obtaining a competing offer from another school.  If faculty are unable to obtain such a competing offer — "embedded faculty who are good but not spectacular" — they have only one other choice:  enter the high-paying world of university administration.  Fenster notes:

Lombardi’s story of university administration is that the people who enter it (a) don’t really want to do it, but are seeking refuge from a stalled scholarly career; (b) aren’t necessarily good at it – that is, they may be good at it, but that’s not a prerequisite for entry, and perhaps it’s not even essential for advancement; and (c) an entire class of employees who are successful scholars are discouraged from entering administration because it might throw off their career trajectories (since only productive scholars advance) and because it might be perceived as an abandonment of their scholarly careers. Oh, and finally, don't forget that while academia trains and screens for scholarship and kinda maybe trains for teaching (except, of course, for legal academia, in which many, though a decreasing number, of entry level hires have little or no graduate school experience), it doesn't train or screen for management.

Mark was kind enough to mention our discussion of the ideal law school dean in our Moneyball article, What Can Law Schools Learn from Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, 82 Tex. L. Rev. 1483 (2004).  We examined the scholarly records of deans and found that higher ranked schools tend to hire stronger scholars as deans (p.1550):

Table 8: Scholarly Performance of Deans by Rank of School (Mean Values)

School Rank

Citation Count

Number of Articles

Articles in Top 10

Articles in Top 25


























Mean Dean





We concluded (pp. 1552-53):

The conventional wisdom in legal education — by insisting that deans when hired be leading scholars and that they continue to be engaged in substantial scholarship during their deanship — is contrary to the lessons in Moneyball.  Billy Beane’s example suggests that the revolutionary dean . . . may turn out to rank below the mid-range in scholarly productivity and impact measures.  But Dean Beane will have the requisite talents, tenacity, and temperament to drive all law school players to better performance.  Dean Beane will confront tradition head on, challenging the conventional wisdom with the certainty of one who has seen (and lived) its limits first-hand....  The innovative law school of the future (like the Oakland A’s of today) very well might be one which would never have hired its dean as a faculty member (or its general manager as a player) in the first place.

The Lombardi article cites an interesting study of faculty salaries, Why Do Field Differentials in Average Faculty Salaries Vary Across Universities?, published by the Cornell Higher Education research Institute.

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