ANALYSIS: CMU compensation spending on academics since 2004-05 grew at slower rate than athletics, administration

Spending on the athletics department, president’s office and human resources rose at a faster rate than faculty pay in that timespan.

By John Irwin

Spending on compensation for Central Michigan University faculty and staff rose by about $90 million between the 2004-05 and 2014-15 academic years, budget documents show.

CMU’s 2014-15 operating budget estimated total compensation costs, which include salaries for faculty and staff plus benefits, at $268 million, up about 51 percent from a decade ago. During the 2004-05 academic year, the university doled out $178 million in total compensation.

Total compensation spending at CMU rose by 51 percent since the 2004-05 academic year. (Source: CMU operating budgets.)
Total compensation spending at CMU rose by 51 percent since the 2004-05 academic year. (Source: CMU operating budgets.)

Academic, administrative and athletics spending rising at different rates

In that same timespan, CMU spending on academic faculty and staff, excluding on the College of Medicine that was founded in 2010, rose by 28 percent to about $135 million in 2014-15 from $105 million in 2004-05.

That means academics accounts for 50.2 percent of all compensation spending this academic year, compared to 59.2 percent in 2004-05.

In that time, however, many notable offices and departments received major boosts in compensation spending that outpaced academics.

For instance, the athletics department spent $5.1 million on compensation in 2004-05, according to the operating budget. That number has since ballooned to $9.2 million, an increase of 80 percent in one decade.

Had academic compensation pay increased at that same rate, faculty and staff at the university’s main colleges would be spending an extra $50 million on compensation this year.

Meanwhile, the president’s office saw its compensation spending jump from $2.5 million in 2004-05 to $4 million in 2014-15, an increase of 60 percent.

The human resources department saw its compensation spending rise by 257 percent, while compensation for charter schools, parking services, residences and auxiliary services and the library have risen by between 37 and 44 percent each.

Check out the table below for more:

Compensation spending on various departments, offices and colleges at CMU. ("Academics" means combined compensation spending on each college.) (Source: CMU operating budgets.)
Compensation spending on various departments, offices and colleges at CMU. (“Academics” means combined compensation spending on each college.) (Source: CMU operating budgets.)


How it happened

It’s no coincidence that CMU’s compensation spending on academics grew at a slower rate than many other notable departments and offices.

The recent enrollment crisis at the university has dried up revenue from tuition while state appropriations from Lansing have decreased significantly. As a result, the university has spent about $26 million more in operating expenses over the last two years than it brought in via revenue. The deficit has forced some academic colleges to cut back financially.

Meanwhile, the university has continued to spend more money each year on athletics, administrative purposes and on the creation of the College of Medicine, among other departments and projects. As CMU’s investments grow, so, too, does its compensation spending in these areas. That’s especially true because searches for coaches and administrators are more competitive than ever and medical school faculty are among the most expensive hires at any university.


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