With a five percent increase in salary spending slated for fiscal year 2002, Yale’s faculty will remain among the best compensated in the nation, though not necessarily the highest paid.

The boost to the faculty salary pool marks the third year in a row the University has increased that funding at a rate two percent above inflation, which Yale calculates to be at three percent. A hot market for faculty, especially among top-flight institutions, is fueling an increase in the financial resources necessary both to retain big name professors who are sought after by other schools and to recruit new faculty members.

As a result, Yale has spent more than expected this year on recruitment, Yale President Richard Levin said at a press conference earlier this month. Administrators said the University will continue to do what is necessary in order to remain competitive in hiring, which also includes keeping current faculty pleased. They maintain that while Yale is not always at the very top of the salary ladder, the University is never too far off the pace.

“Our salaries are right up there,” said Provost Alison Richard, Yale’s chief academic and financial officer.

The average salary for a tenured Yale professor during the 1998-1999 academic year — the last period for which statistics are available — was $113,100, according to a report from the Committee on the Economic Status of Faculty, a standing committee appointed by the provost’s office. Salaries for associate professors and assistant professors that year averaged $64,400 and $52,200, respectively.

At that time, Harvard’s full professors were paid an average salary that was eight percent higher. Princeton’s tenure faculty earned 1.6 percent more. That disparity increased to a Yale shortfall of more than 20 percent for junior faculty.

Several administrative sources have said Princeton has been playing a major role in driving up salaries in the last year. That university’s largess is attributed to its higher endowment-to-student ratio.

Administrators and faculty alike, including physics professor and Committee on the Economic Status of Faculty chair Michael Zeller, say that it is difficult to compare Yale’s salaries with those of peer institutions because some some have more faculty in departments traditionally commanding higher salaries.

“Various departments have more competitive salaries than others because of private industry,” Zeller said. “[When those factors are considered] we find that the Yale numbers are comparable.”

Richard said junior faculty member salaries are now increasing at a faster rate than for tenured professors.

The five percent increase to the faculty salary pool does not mean every Yale professor will receive a five percent boost to their salary. Individual faculty member raises are determined by department chairs and in a process called “structurals,” where Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead, Graduate School Dean Susan Hockfield and provost’s office representatives collaborate to examine special requests for increases.

Department chairs have discretion over how to distribute the base increase among their faculty after professors who were granted structurals receive them.

Since Yale can potentially experience a turnover savings if high-paid senior professors retire and recycle those funds into the salary pool, it is possible the budget increase could eventually be more than five percent. But the recent trend has tended toward the opposite, Richard said.

The fiscal year 2002 budget is still being ironed out and is scheduled to be ready for the April or June Corporation meeting.

For the 2001 fiscal year, which ends June 30, $268.3 million or 19 percent of the $1.3 billion budget was spent on faculty salaries. An additional 10 percent was spent on benefits for faculty and staff.