Rice University Tops State List of Professor Salaries

Perhaps unsurprisingly, professors at Rice University, the most prestigious private university in Texas, are the highest-paid in the state, according to data released this week.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has compiled and released data on average salaries for professors in the current academic year at 1,251 campuses of all types — public, private, four-year, two-year — throughout the country.

While Rice's figure tops the Texas list at $159,500 per year, its average annual salary for a full professor comes in 21st in the country. That’s just ahead of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, at $158,300, but significantly behind the  $198,400 at Harvard University, which pays the best.

While a private institution tops the pay scale, the data indicates that educators at the top public universities in Texas aren’t exactly struggling financially. Full professors at the University of Texas at Dallas have the second-highest average salary in the state at $142,400, edging out the University of Texas at Austin's average of $140,700.

Nationally, the average salary for a full professor is $113,176. For associates and assistant professors, the national averages are $78,565 and $66,564, respectively.

 

Gary Susswein, a spokesman for UT-Austin, said the salaries at the state’s most prestigious public university fall below those of many comparable schools in other states. Among public universities, it ranks 13th in the nation.

“These salary numbers confirm that UT is providing an exceptional educational and financial value for our students,” Susswein wrote in an email.  

Texas A&M University, in College Station, where the average salary for a full professor is $120,000, ranks sixth in the state — behind Southern Methodist University in Dallas at $136,900 and the University of Houston-Main Campus at $128,800. A&M ranked even farther down the list for average Texas university salaries for associate professors (eighth) and assistant professors (seventh).

The American Association of University Professors, a national organization of academics, collected the data. As Audrey Williams June wrote for the Chronicle in an article that accompanied its release of the data, the association hopes to recast the public’s understanding of faculty pay, often portrayed as rapidly escalating and driving up the cost of college.

On the whole, salaries for full-time faculty rose 1.8 percent in the last academic year. When adjusted for inflation, that actually amounts to a 1.2 percent decrease.

Last year, higher-education observers in Texas found themselves in the center of a heated debate about the productivity of education. The value provided by relatively well-paid faculty members at UT-Austin was particularly scrutinized and questioned.

Susswein said the salary figures demonstrate the university’s contention that professors offer a significant return for the investment that UT and the state make in them. 

“UT is second among public research universities in the number of faculty we employ for every dollar of tuition and state funding we receive,” he wrote. “Our tenured and tenure-track faculty generate $558 million a year in research and state formula funding for teaching while earning $257 million in state-funded salaries.”

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s database included 50 Texas institutions. Of those with data for all three levels of professors, here are the 10 highest-paying and 10 lowest-paying colleges and universities in Texas:

10 Highest-Paying Texas Colleges & Universities
InstitutionFull ProfessorsAssociate ProfessorsAssistant Professors
Rice University $159,500 $106,000 $86,600
University of Texas at Dallas $142,400 $104,100 $93,700
University of Texas at Austin $140,700 $89,900 $83,900
Southern Methodist University $136,900 $91,700 $92,600
University of Houston-Main $128,800 $84,500 $81,000
Texas A&M University $120,000 $83,100 $72,800
Texas Christian University $119,500 $87,200 $71,100
Baylor University $115,900 $88,300 $75,000
University of Texas at San Antonio $115,300 $80,600 $71,000
Trinity University $114,400 $75,400 $60,400
10 Lowest-Paying Texas Colleges &Universities
InstitutionFull ProfessorsAssociate ProfessorsAssistant Professors
East Texas Baptist University $87,800 $52,900 $45,400
McMurry University $65,100 $51,800 $50,800
Hardin-Simmons University $66,800 $56,600 $50,200
Lone Star College System $67,800 $51,800 $51,200
University of Dallas $67,900 $61,700 $57,600
Austin Community College $69,100 $53,100 $45,700
Sul Ross State University $70,100 $53,900 $47,600
Texas Lutheran University $70,500 $58,200 $51,400
Our Lady of the Lake University $70,900 $61,300 $57,000
Austin College $74,600 $65,400 $57,300
 

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