Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Summer $

If you are a faculty member paid on a 9 month basis, how much summer salary do you typically get from grants? By "how much", I refer to time, not the actual amount of money.

The poll refers to a typical total amount of time for a summer, not an amount per grant.

This is a difficult question for me to answer because there is no typical amount. If you have the same situation, perhaps you could answer with the average amount in recent years. The answer should also be the amount of time for which you are paid a summer salary, not how much you budgeted, as the budgeted amount may be greater than the actual amount paid.

If your typical summer salary falls between two possible answers in the poll, pick the closest answer.

How much summer salary do you typically get from grants?
none
1-2 weeks
1 month
2 months
3 months
pollcode.com free polls

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

As an academic in a European country, where it is self-evident to pay 12-month (possibly barring some short-term employees) salary, this whole scheme of paying only 9 month seems curious. How is it legitimized?

Paying 9 month would seem fair to me, if a professor were only obliged to teach. However, a very significant part of the job is to conduct research which is often only possible during summer months. Is it ok to just to do nothing during the summer months or are you expected to do something during non-salary months?

One possible explanation might be that your are actually thought to be paid a yearly salary which is only divided into 9 months.

Kate said...

I do find the whole nine month thing insulting, since I work twelve months full time (and really, way more than full time). But in my discipline we don't ask for summer salary in our grants; it's considered greedy in a science discipline that doesn't have as much money as others. So I find myself applying for grants and not including it because that's what my colleagues do... and my understanding is, even if I did include it, I wouldn't get it.

Due to some additional service work I did manage to get one month last year. But I don't anticipate that happening again.

Anonymous said...

I can't answer this question, since I am paid a 12 month salary. Effectively, that means my salary is under-reported in your statistic (since I did answer the previous question). I think a more general way to have asked these two sets of questions would have been to ask what was the total amount of money you earned from university activities (say, in 2009, or int he average of 2008-2009), and what percent of that was obtained from outside grants. You could also ask, what percent of that would have been paid even if you didn't have any outside funding.


European academic -- the convention of the 9 month salary in the US derives from the historical 9 month academic calendar. Traditionally, students in the US (both K-12 & college) had summer off (to help with the farms). That meant the teachers also had the summers off (to help with the farms, or to find other paid employment). Practically faculty don't do that in the US anymore (i.e. take the summer off to vacation or obtain other paid employment). The exception is grant support for work that is part of their larger mission, research, but that they are not technically paid for by the university (though required to do it).

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous (2:26am)
I'm tenure-track (into my 3rd year) so I need to publish as many papers as I can. I do research 12 months a year and fit in the teaching and service. Whatever summer salary I can get (which is 1/2 to 1 month) I think of as a bonus. I can't think of my 9 month salary as just being paid to teach--it is my salary for the job I do. The entire job. If I only did research while being paid summer salary I would not earn tenure.

Anonymous said...

Again, as a european, the idea of being paid for 9 months and doing 12 months is ridiculous. WHy doesn't everybody just not work for the 3 unpaid months? How do you manage to get appointed to a full time job but only get paid for some of your time? How many academics in the US feel stupid for only getting paid 9 months of the year?

John V said...

The 9-month salary is a blatant fundraiser. It encourages people to write proposals or do extra chores for the university for some extra cash.

Of course, the extra money brought in, and the accompanying overhead, leverages the possibility of more faculty positions for the university and keeps the faculty working on fundable and therefor mainstream projects.

An American free enterprise sort of set-up. Soft money positions are even more so, and there exist 6-month hard-money positions, 9-month positions in which one must raise 6 months of money to get the full 12-month salary.

Only a few truly 11- or 12-month teaching positions exist, as far as I know.

This has little to do with whether one also does consulting for outside income, most positions allow some level of such work. No one is expected to take the summer off.

John V said...

The 9-month salary is a blatant fundraiser. It encourages people to write proposals or do extra chores for the university for some extra cash.

Of course, the extra money brought in, and the accompanying overhead, leverages the possibility of more faculty positions for the university and keeps the faculty working on fundable and therefor mainstream projects.

An American free enterprise sort of set-up. Soft money positions are even more so, and there exist 6-month hard-money positions, 9-month positions in which one must raise 6 months of money to get the full 12-month salary.

Only a few truly 11- or 12-month teaching positions exist, as far as I know.

This has little to do with whether one also does consulting for outside income, most positions allow some level of such work. No one is expected to take the summer off.

Ann said...

"is often only possible during summer months" ???
it is true that summers are easier, but somehow one really has to juggle the teaching and service and RESEARCH during the year to be doing an acceptable job.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 2:26 AM

I'm embarrassed to say I don't really know sufficient details to answer your question!

What I can tell you is that, at my PUI, faculty are technically paid only to teach, so it would be possible to take a summer vacation without shirking salaried duties. Technically. (The number of research students mentored eventually accumulates to some (very small) number of teaching credits throughout the 9-month academic year).

However, after behavior like this, the TT contract would not be renewed, as research expectations would not be met. As I understand it, you would not be fired, you would just not be re-hired.

So, in order to keep your institution-supported teaching job, you must support your research career on your "own" time (primarily over the summer), and the institution does not compensate you, though they do provide overhead support for your research (in my case, lab space, instrumentation, electricity, library services, etc). Any compensation you receive personally is earned via grant funding. (And, as it looks from the early results of FSP poll data, at least for early career scientists in my situation, it is crucial to use grant funding for research, not salary compensation).

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is the explanation usually. Often professors are given a yearly salary, and then asked if they want it divided into 9 or 12 months. If they take 9 months, they can pay themselves extra in the summer from the grants. So it is just a way to get paid more.

Doug Natelson said...

Anon, the idea (I'm not saying that this makes sense; just that this is the idea) is that the funding agencies are paying for you to do additional research work beyond what the university considers a requirement of your academic-year duties.

FSP, have you ever done a post on "effort reporting"? It still strikes me as one of the strangest aspects of funded academic research. I understand on some intellectual level why the rules exist as they do, but the actual consequences are bizarre.

Kitty said...

Of course, characterizing how much summer salary I typically get is very dicey, since it totally depends on my grant status. I happen to be in a very good cycle right now, but two years ago I was facing the real prospect of going from 3 months of funding each summer for the past 6 years to no summer salary. Add in to that the effects of losing funding for my grad students and several full-time research associates. I was so stressed it was almost killing me, and I know I'll get to revisit that happy place again in another few years when I consider renewals of all my current grants. Ahh, the joys of academia.

I am reminded of Stephan Quake's op-ed piece likening academia to running a small business for which you must secure funding, balance the books, etc. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/guest-column-letting-scientists-off-the-leash/

female Science Professor said...

I don't mind the 9 month salary basis, whether or not it is supplemented by grants in the summer. Technically, the university cannot ask us to do institutional service in the summer (although this is routinely violated), and any summer teaching (which is entirely optional) is paid as an additional amount to our 9 month base salary. I think the most fair amount would actually be 10 months for faculty with graduate students and/or institutional service commitments that continue in the summer.

Average Professor said...

John V is right on. The 9-month salary concept is just a fundraiser for the university.

For me, I always write in a month of summer salary in a proposal but if the grant is funded I don't always take the summer salary if I have something more critical I need or want to do with the funds (grad student for example).

But I work 12 months a year regardless of how much summer salary I am getting/taking in a given summer. Especially since all my research is rooted in the outdoors, summer is the primary data collection period, so even if I wanted to "not work" I really couldn't. It would also mean I would be not working during the rest of the year when I'm usually analyzing the data from previous summers!

But really my 9-month salary is a completely respectable annual income. So I don't feel like I'm getting cheated. (Plus, if I wanted to, I could request that the university disburse my 9-month salary over 12 months, just to ease any disruption in monthly budgeting.)

My university still has some legacy 12-month appointments and I think the 9-monthers have it better because they CAN get more than their university budgeted salary in a given year, depending on their funding situation, where a 12-monther pretty much can't.

female Science Professor said...

Doug, I have indeed expressed my extreme displeasure, more than once, with the bizarre system of Effort reporting. Example

Anonymous said...

The answer to this question has varied widely, depending on my grant funding, from 3 months to none. Lately the number has been on the low end, no surprise to anyone relying on NIH or NSF. Luckily, my family and I live frugally so my 9 month salary was sufficient for cost of living even when I started (I as a very poor negotiator and my take home salary dropped from postdoc to asst prof). The "nine month salary" is paid over 12 months, so I have always used whatever summer salary I get to make additional payments into my retirement account. My salary has risen significantly in the subsequent many years and now is really more than enough. In fact, at this point summer salary pushes our family income over certain limits where the tax code ends up taking much of the difference, reducing the incentive to take summer salary and increasing the attraction of hiring another student or postdoc.

Mark P

Alex said...

Anon, the idea (I'm not saying that this makes sense; just that this is the idea) is that the funding agencies are paying for you to do additional research work beyond what the university considers a requirement of your academic-year duties.

If you don't think the summer research is a requirement of the university, try not doing research in the summer, and see if you still get enough research done for tenure and promotion. The term "9 month salary" is just a name, not an accurate description, and "summer salary" is really "reward for bringing in a grant."

Yes, yes, I am well aware that there are thick stacks of paper explaining that my definitions are wrong, but I challenge any untenured person to not do research in the summer and see if you continue to collect your "9 month" salary a few years later.

amy said...

There aren't any grants in my discipline, so I have to teach summer classes when I need extra money. I try to avoid that as much as possible because, with a 3-2 load and no TAs, it's really important to get as much research done as I can in the summers. I knew that coming in, so in my mind I just treated my munificent salary offer of $45K as a 12-month salary. It's a decent salary for an asst prof in my field. I set up automatic deduction from each paycheck into a savings acct., so when summer comes I have exactly 3 months worth of salary saved up, and that way my income doesn't fluctuate at all. Some of my colleagues live on credit cards in the summer, and that seems crazy. I don't understand how a single person in this one-horse town would be unable to live on $45K a year.

Anonymous said...

I am TT in Science, and only get paid 3 months salary by my University. This is pretty common in my field. Yes, I teach less. This way our department spreads the State support among a larger number of faculty. If I don't raise 9 months salary from grants there is 'bridge' funding, so in fact I do get paid 12 months salary, regardless of how much money I bring in, but the 'expectation' is that I will bring in enough to cover my salary. Meaning, there is a lot of pressure to bring in the $.

EliRabett said...

There are two things missing here. First, many faculty work elsewhere during the summer, national labs, research universities, etc.

Second, technically your university should not let you take a full three months during the summer as that would leave you with no vacation (hah, just telling your the OMB rules) time, e.g. they expect you will go off with the family or by yourself for two weeks or more during the summer. Getting paid from a grant during that time is a nono

Anonymous said...

despite the griping about being paid for only 9 months out of the year, this 9-month salary is still above the median annual income (that is for 12 months) of most of the american population.

Anonymous said...

for science faculty, I should say. I dont' know about non-science disciplines.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere in the range of 24 months salary per year actually.

Doctor Pion said...

I didn't answer because my summer salary comes from teaching rather than a grant. I could get three months of summer salary if I wanted to work that hard, but I'm more financially secure if I do not. (Readers of my blog know that I teach just enough in summer to wind down while leisurely preparing for fall and spring.) I'm much more secure if I am rested and healthy.

I'm with FSP on unpaid service, but there are only a few faculty on our campus whose committee work runs during times they are not otherwise working.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 4:40pm:

True, these salaries are high by the standard you mention. Some are, however, below "market value" for the degree we hold, in terms of what would be earned outside of academia for working less hours. (In my case, I make less than half of what I was offered in an "industry" position.) The benefits that outweigh this, obviously, are (a) getting to do what I love (both research and teaching) and (b) the possibility of tenure.

I think one of the reasons for FSP's original post on faculty salary (though I wouldn't want to get her in trouble here!) is the assumption by, say, undergraduates or even grad students that faculty must be completely financially breezing through life after earning such an advanced degree is not always correct. In fact, the salaries that some of us earn are actually more in line with some high school teachers I know (at least, until promotion, and even then, I am not going to see much of a difference between my salary and the salary of my high-school-teaching compatriots. Also, tenure can be part of the life of a high school teacher as well. So, the difference in monetary compensation and benefits, while better for the college professor, are not always as great as people may imagine as a grad student.)