Texas Reaps Twice as Much as It Pays for University of Texas at Austin Faculty

University of Texas at Austin instructors generate nearly twice as much revenue through research funding and educational dollars as they cost the state in salary and benefits, according to a report on faculty productivity issued by the university.

The report analyzes data released earlier this year by The University of Texas System related to class sizes and research funding for about 4,000 instructors from graduate assistants to tenured professors. The report emphasizes that faculty impact cannot be fully measured by limited pieces of data from a single point in time. Still, it finds that the state receives a large return on its investment in instructors at the flagship university.

"The data show that professors at The University of Texas at Austin continue to fulfill the promise set forth by the university's founders to create and maintain a university of the first class for the state and its people," author Marc Musick, a sociology professor and associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts, writes in "An Analysis of Faculty Instructional and Grant-based Productivity at The University of Texas at Austin."

Key findings include:

  • All instructors generated about $658 million in teaching and research-related revenue in 2009-10. They were paid about $318 million in salary and benefits from state funds.
  • On average, tenured and tenure track faculty members earn $129,000 in salary and benefits from state funds, and each generates $280,000 in educational and research funding.
  • Among the one-fifth of instructors who teach the most semester credit hours, 56.8 percent are tenured and tenure track faculty members. Of those who teach the fewest semester credit hours, 77.2 percent are graduate students or non-tenured faculty.
  • About 88 percent of professors in colleges with undergraduate enrollments teach and collaborate with undergraduate students.
  • Only the lowest-paid faculty members, those who earn less than $75,000 a year on average, fail to generate an equivalent amount of revenue for the university. Many of these are assistant professors at the start of their careers whose most productive years are ahead of them.

Musick's report is the first analysis of the University of Texas at Austin data that separates tenured and tenure track faculty members from graduate teaching assistants and non-tenure track faculty, who have different responsibilities and expectations. It is also the first study that examines the number of "weighted semester hours" instructors teach. Those weighted figures generally reflect the time and resources needed to teach specific classes and are used to determine the amount of money the state allocates to public colleges and universities.

The report also makes recommendations for improvements, including developing a system to collect complete and meaningful data on faculty; increasing the size of medium-sized classes to free up more instructors to teach small seminars; and providing faculty members with additional mentoring as well as more support and incentives to apply for research grants.

"These successes do not mean that UT cannot get better; rather, the university must find ways to work with the UT System and its own faculty and administrators to push productivity to even higher levels," Musick writes.