Another View: University of Idaho should set more attainable salary goals

A June 5 Daily News story reported that the University of Idaho’s full professor salaries fall behind the national average by 26 percent among Ph.D.-granting institutions, according to a salary survey recently released by the U of I Faculty Federation.

That means while Idaho’s professors made an average of $95,000 during the 2014-15 academic year, the national average was $130,039.

“Even given the extraordinary loyalty of our faculty and staff, low salaries put the university at risk of losing or failing to attract the talented teachers, researchers and support staff who make (U of I) a premier institution,” U of I President Chuck Staben said Thursday in a statement to the Daily News.

While professors did receive a raise of 3 percent for 2015, Idaho Federation of Teachers President Nick Gier said it’s not enough to catch up to other universities.

Given the state’s long history of cutting education funding, we don’t doubt they have a strong case that more can be done to compensate the U of I’s hardworking faculty. We also would hate the university to be at risk of losing its top researchers because of monetary reasons.

While we support further pay raises, we’re hesitant to panic about this “lagging” behind the national average.

Should the U of I — as fine of an institution as it is — really compare itself to the likes of Stanford, Harvard and Columbia universities, institutions that would be part of a national average?

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, those three Ph.D.-granting universities paid their professors more than $200,000 a year.

It seems the U of I would be better off to determine who its comparable universities are first, before lamenting over how much it is falling behind.

That’s not as strong of a negotiating tactic, however. Instead, it’s better to highlight that staggering 26 percent figure.

Let’s just hope any future raises don’t have to come at the expense of students seeing their tuition and fees rise.