A MATTER OF DEMAND
(In response to William Hamilton’s Feb. 15 column: “ASU salaries: inequitable and obscene.”)
The discrepancies noticed by Mr. Hamilton are more a matter of a difference in demand than an unfair system trapping people at the bottom.
While it would be nice for everyone at the University to make about the same amount of money as each other, this is not a possibility that would ever happen for one specific reason: a market’s demand for a professional. Salaries generally are representation of desire for a set of skills. The more rare and valuable a set is, the more money an institution is willing to pay for it. In the case of Michael Crow, his salary could easily be doubled by any number of Fortune 500 companies that would be willing to pay for the managerial and leadership skills that he possesses. So such a high compensation from the Arizona Board of Regents is necessary to keep him here because at some point money outweighs personal desire and interest. Furthermore, the suggestion that Crow should be fired or released from his contract is a terrible notion as his specific vision for the University and its direction has set a course that has allowed ASU to do the incredible: be a world-renowned institution on the forefront of research and learning in many fields, while also being inclusive to those who want to attend.
On the note of the English professors, English lectures are a common resource and a degree in this field does not generally net a large income, meaning that there is low market demand for them and thus they can be paid less. If one were to look at other colleges such as the engineering schools, a similar starting position would net a minimum of $65,000 (as of 2009) starting salary. Showing a larger demand for these positions is comparable to what their counterparts in industry make. Further, those who are tenured or made dean have been perceived to have or gained skills that make them valuable to manage and run a department and thus are paid to do so.
So while everyone at the University is likely working the same amount, it’s the skill set that they bring to the table that is being paid for. I also think that the view of the salaries at the University that were provided were very narrow as these range widely depending on time spent here, skill level and degree possessed.
School of Engineering Matter Transport and Energy