Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, April 4, 2011

The facts about administrative and faculty growth and salaries at U-M

U-M has increased salaries and headcount in a modest manner, in keeping with its commitment to affordability and accessibility, support of Michigan's economic transformation, and longstanding dedication to controlling costs.

Using the Higher Education Institutional Data Inventory data to compare the growth of administrative positions and salaries to that of faculty positions and salaries doesn't work. Here's why:

Since only General Fund dollars are reflected in HEIDI data, true costs for faculty and staff are not accurately tracked.

HEIDI data only counts the people and salaries paid from the General Fund. U-M has done such a good job of getting other sources of funding for faculty (donor gifts, endowment proceeds, research grants) that more than one-third of faculty salaries are paid from those other sources.

That's good for U-M and that's good for the taxpayers of Michigan. But it also distorts the faculty portion of the HEIDI data.

The HEIDI data would make one think that the number of administrators (staff) and administrator pay is growing faster than faculty pay. Actually, just the opposite is true.

The HEIDI data indicate that for the five years of 2006-10, U-M staff compensation grew by 27 percent, compared to faculty compensation growth of 18 percent.

University data shows just the opposite to be true. The average annual salary increase for the period was 3.7 percent for faculty and 2.5 percent for staff. Faculty salaries grew a total of 15.6 percent during that five-year period, on average, compared to 10.3 percent for staff.

In two of the last six years (FY 2004 and FY 2010), the president, provost, vice presidents, and deans received no increase in their base salaries.

Since only General Fund dollars are reflected in HEIDI data, true faculty and staff numbers are not tracked.

The HEIDI data only includes the portion of a faculty position paid for through the General Fund. So, faculty effort that is funded through grants and donations is not counted. And, HEIDI includes a wide range of employees under the heading of "faculty" — including graduate student instructors, lecturers and others.

Because of these two issues, HEIDI data indicate full-time-equivalent positions grew by 2.5 percent for U-M faculty compared to 10.3 percent for staff for the five-year period.

In reality, U-M's annual headcount shows that the faculty has grown 10 percent during that period while regular staff has grown 5.3 percent. (The U-M staff count does not include the hospitals and health centers. The faculty count includes tenured, tenure-track, regular instructional, "not on track," lecturers, regular clinical, supplemental, primary, supplemental primary and emeritus).

HEIDI data doesn't define "administration," and it has been misinterpreted to mean "administrator." In fact that broad term includes a variety of professional staff in many areas.

The "administrators" that are not defined actually include professional staff such as employees in IT, finance, compliance, admissions, student counseling, human resources and research, among other areas. And, a portion of our administrative growth in research — while initially charged to the General Fund — is later recovered through externally sponsored federal grants.

HEIDI data uses "compensation," and that has been confused by some to mean "salary." Media reports have used the two terms interchangeably.

The HEIDI compensation figures include benefit costs, including those for employee health care. That distorts the HEIDI numbers even more because benefit costs are constantly changing and depend largely on who is being counted.

U-M has been very aggressive — and successful — at keeping its health care cost increases below the national average (though, like with other businesses, health care costs continue to rise).

Additionally U-M has shifted a greater portion of total health care cost (an average of 30 percent) to employees — both faculty and staff. All of that helps keep down the cost of running the university.