Your professor may be in poverty — but probably not in Connecticut

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About 10 percent of part-time faculty in Connecticut earn below the poverty line, according to an analysis by the Service Employees International Union.

The union used estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2008-2012).

Nationwide, about 22 percent of part-time faculty live below the poverty line — a number that SEIU will highlight at a rally today at the state Capitol. The march is part of a national “Faculty Forward” campaign, which aims to start a conversation about pay for adjunct professors by demanding that they be paid $15,000 per course.

However, part-time professors fare better in Connecticut than in other states. Connecticut has the second-lowest poverty rate for part-time professors among U.S. states, trailing only Nevada’s 9 percent. Maine tops the list, with 43 percent of part-time professors earning below the poverty line.

The percentage of full-time faculty below the poverty line is between 1 and 5 percent nationally. Connecticut is at three percent.

Not enough data exists to replicate this analysis at a local level, but the US Department of Education has data on full-time salaries by academic rank for colleges in Connecticut.

Some interesting details:

  • Only a lecturer at Holy Apostles College & Seminary makes less than what is considered the poverty level by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • The colleges with the highest average faculty pay are Yale University ($144,378), the U.S. Coast Guard Academy ($106,668), and Rensselaer-Hartford ($104,193).
  • The colleges with the lowest average faculty pay are Holy Apostles College & Seminary ($29,331), the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts ($33,813), and Lincoln College of New England ($50,733).
  • The highest average full professor pay is at Yale ($192,546), followed by the University of Connecticut ($140,652), and Wesleyan University ($136,314).
  • The highest average paid lecturers are at Rensselaer-Hartford ($104,697) and Trinity College ($86,904).
  • The lowest average paid lecturers, not including seminaries, are at Housatonic Community College ($26,892) and Quinnipiac University ($39,708).

Average salaries at Connecticut colleges by academic rank
Average salaries of full-time, non-medical, instructional staff equated to nine-month contracts for the 2013-2014 academic year. Click the column header to sort.
College Average All Pay Average Professor Associate Profesor Assistant Professor Lecturer
Albertus Magnus College $68,409 $79,533 $67,059 $55,809
Asnuntuck Community College $62,190 $80,280 $57,159 $48,546 $45,315
Capital Community College $63,225 $76,905 $60,282 $52,884 $48,195
Central Connecticut State University $76,617 $89,910 $72,387 $58,544 $52,344
Connecticut College $86,166 $111,186 $81,639 $69,048 $63,000
Eastern Connecticut State University $72,819 $86,139 $69,408 $56,151 $48,357
Fairfield University $91,926 $117,171 $87,516 $74,133 $75,015
Gateway Community College $69,966 $80,478 $61,794 $52,767 $52,884
Hartford Seminary $54,387 $62,613 $60,264 $47,322 $30,987
Holy Apostles College & Sem $29,331 $32,139 $38,691 $40,095 $10,647
Housatonic Community College $55,485 $75,825 $52,884 $46,818 $26,892
Lincoln College New England $50,733 $52,524 $57,177 $41,031
LymeAcademy College Fine Arts $33,813 $34,038 $32,436
Manchester Community College $67,077 $78,345 $57,897 $50,751 $44,955
Middlesex Community College $65,889 $76,995 $58,788 $50,913 $44,226
Mitchell College $67,212 $78,183 $68,481 $63,180
Naugatuck Valley Community College $72,864 $84,456 $67,599 $58,977 $50,355
Northwestern Connecticut Community College $63,468 $77,499 $65,205 $52,389 $44,226
Norwalk Community College $66,393 $73,368 $60,903 $50,121 $44,955
Post University $66,060 $85,113 $70,002 $64,656
Quinebaug Valley Community College $60,741 $76,167 $44,928 $56,574 $50,760
Quinnipiac University $77,841 $102,699 $79,263 $62,379 $39,708
Rensselaer-Hartford $105,525 $105,669 $104,697
Sacred Heart University $76,194 $109,089 $83,466 $67,824 $52,551
Southern Connecticut State University $74,862 $88,263 $72,054 $58,140 $48,969
St. Vincent’s College $55,053 $60,183 $52,065
Three Rivers Community College $62,460 $74,916 $60,975 $51,201 $48,042
Trinity College $97,956 $118,035 $99,189 $76,824 $86,904
Tunxis Community College $67,311 $78,246 $58,887 $50,013 $51,795
University of Bridgeport $64,440 $79,767 $67,914 $54,342 $60,507
University of Connecticut $104,193 $140,652 $95,625 $77,373 $74,187
University of Hartford $73,602 $89,766 $72,765 $61,920 $63,936
University of New Haven $84,663 $110,907 $93,627 $73,836 $60,003
University of Saint Joseph $73,737 $91,350 $77,058 $67,536 $46,791
US Coast Guard Academy $106,668 $107,253 $80,388 $75,924 $53,739
Wesleyan University $100,467 $136,314 $93,276 $79,209 $72,765
Western Connecticut State University $78,408 $92,772 $71,955 $61,218 $51,210
Yale University $144,378 $192,546 $117,288 $95,499 $77,697

What do you think?

  • Jim

    Thank you for bringing this important issue to the public’s attention. Unfortunately, I think your article is a bit confusing because it begins with the salary issue for part-time, adjunct faculty, but then jumps to data for full-time professors and lecturers. The critical item for readers to understand (and I assume the purpose for the rally at the Capitol) is that colleges and universities make extensive use of adjunct faculty and only pay them roughly $3,000 per course with no benefits. Many of these professors have earned PhD’s but cannot find full-time positions because it’s too advantageous for the schools to take advantage of them. They are forced to try to piece together multiple positions, often at multiple institutions, and still earn less than an administrative assistant. Such is the sad state of our higher education system.

    • Andrew Ba Tran

      Thanks, Jim. It’s a bit confusing but I was working off and expanding on the data set structure that SEIU provided: Percent of full- and part-time professors in poverty. The issue that the group wants to press is that adjunct professor are being underpaid but there just isn’t any data I can find yet that expresses that locally. As far as I can tell, IPEDS only has average salaries at specific colleges for full-time faculty and not part-time. I could only look at full-time salaries for colleges in Connecticut. If you know of where I should look for adjuncts, please let me know. My next step is to track number of tenured versus non-tenured positions/full-time versus part-time positions over the past 10 years and see how that’s changed.

      • Jim

        I’m not sure where to find specific salary info for part-time. To give you a couple leads to point you in the right direction, I know WNPR’s “Where We Live” dedicated a show to this issue a few months ago. Also, an excellent source is the MLA (Modern Language Association) which is for all English and Foreign Language faculty in the country. They have been tracking data on this for twenty years. Here’s a link with searchable data comparing 1995 vs. 2009: And an article by their 2013 president on the subject:

        Great idea to look into the tenured/non-tenured and full/part time changes over the years! I think these days tenure or tenure track is only about 25% of all faculty, while part-time adjuncts are close to 50% of all positions.

        • Andrew Ba Tran

          Thanks for the links! I’ll check them out.

          • alan trevithick

            I’m very late to this but, to take one example, 70% of faculty at NVCC are adjuncts, almost all part time, allowed to take only two courses per semester at most at, (at most) 5000 per course. You’ve obviously left out the majority of faculty in your report, in the case of NVCC, and that school is by no means an outlier. Need more? Happy to help

  • zacharyjanowski

    Andrew, this is very interesting. Sorry, I’m late to the conversation. Does any of this data address total income or is it just income from being a professor? If someone making six figures earns an extra $3,000 teaching a class, that’s not poverty. It’s a vacation.

    • Andrew Ba Tran

      Hi Zach, the census data used for the three maps above are total income but the specific professor salary data in the table below it is income specific to the schools.