An Arkansas Times article Aug. 23 about differences in pay between male and female faculty at the state colleges and universities brought a communication from a reader who said we should compare salaries of black and white faculty. We called on a couple of conveniently located institutions, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Central Arkansas at Conway.
At UALR, the average salary for a white faculty member (all ranks included) in the 2006-07 academic year was $58,023 and for a black, $57,205. The average salary for all “non-white” groups was $63,496, driven upward by the Asian average of $71,295. Most of the 31 Asian faculty teach in the high-tech, high-paying College of Engineering and Information Technology (also known as the “Cyber College”). Few of the 29 black faculty teach in the Cyber College, but a number are found in the School of Law and the College of Business, which also pay well. The highest-paid professor in the Law School, and the fourth-highest overall, is a black female. Her $103,603 salary doubtless drags up the average for both blacks and females — especially blacks, since there are fewer of them.
All of the top 20 places on the UALR faculty-pay list are filled by professors who teach in Law, Business or Cyber. The highest-paid member of the Science and Mathematics faculty ranks 24th on the overall list. The highest-paid member of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences faculty is 62nd on the overall list of 466.
UCA divided up its data by race, gender and rank. In the 2006-07 school year, a white male full professor made an average salary of $73,869, a black male full professor made $59,607, an Asian male full professor $92,892. (UCA notes that “A small number of faculty members in a given race can cause the averages to sway significantly either higher or lower.”) A female white full professor made an average of $70,070, a black $62,778. There were no Asian women in the full-professor category.
Both institutions point out that these figures are averages, and there are many reasons why a particular professor might be paid less or more, including job performance. They also emphasize the market's role in setting the salaries of various colleges.