Charlie Gibson makes up salary figures

In the Democratic presidential debate last night at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, moderator Charlie Gibson asked a question of Hillary Clinton about two college professors making more than $100,000 (from the NY Times rush transcript):

MR. GIBSON: If you take a family of — if you take a family of two professors here at Saint Anselm, they’re going to be in the $200,000 category that you’re talking about lifting the taxes on. And — (laughter).

MR. EDWARDS: I don’t think they agree with you.

SEN. OBAMA: I’m not sure that that’s — (laughter) –

SEN. CLINTON: That may be NYU, Charlie.I don’t think it’s — (laughter) — Saint Anselm.

Senator Clinton is absolutely right. According to the AAUP salary survey data on St. Anselm, the mean salary for full professors at the college in 2006-07 was $77,400, and the mean salary for assistant professors was $49,600, about half of what Gibson assumed. (Clinton was underestimating the average full-professor salary at NYU, which was $149,500 in the AAUP survey. It’s probably close to $100K if you look at faculty overall.)

Gibson’s hypothetical shows an amazing ignorance of higher education, especially small private colleges.

At USF, the AAUP survey reports that full professors outside medicine made on average about $100,000 in 2006-07, but that hides considerable variation by discipline (music and English professors don’t make anywhere close to that). To put that into a national perspective, among Research I institutions, USF salaries for assistant, associate, and full professors rank in the fourth quintile, with more than 60% of research institutions paying more than USF does.


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