HBCU Faculty Earn a Lot Less Than Their Non-HBCU Peers

Just last week I wrote about how enrollments at historically black colleges are significantly up. As The Root put it, from “top tier to bottom tier,” HBCUs are experiencing double-digit increases in enrollment—at a time when college enrollment is down overall.

Although this news was splashed across social media, here’s an item you may not hear a lot about: HBCU faculty earn a lot less than their peers at non-HBCUs.



 The HBCU Pay Penalty


This isn’t exactly news. According to the most recent issue of the NEA Higher Education Advocate, a quarterly publication of the National Education Association, in 2008 a study revealed that HBCU faculty members earned $11,000, or 17%, less than their non-HBCU peers.

The publication states: “The gap likely reflects pernicious trends in state and federal funding, rooted in institutional racism.”

It certainly seems intentional. The Advocate examines three states, all in the South, and in all, HBCU faculty earn the least. In Florida, the University of Florida pays its full professors the most: $132,200. Compared with the other Tier 2 Carnegie research institutions that grant doctoral degrees, Florida A&M University, or FAMU, pays its professors the least: $93,500.

In Louisiana, it’s worse. The top-earning full professors teach at Louisiana State University, earning $115,500; those at the two doctoral-granting HBCUs, Southern University and A&M College and Grambling State University, earn the least: $70,300 and $67,200, respectively.

In fact, the national average salary for full professors, the Advocate reports, is $113,360, but at HBCUs, it’s $68, 922.

Money Isn’t Everything


Two years ago, Gallup released a study showing that HBCU graduates have greater well-being than black graduates of non-HBCUs. Gallup found that HBCU grads were thriving, and identified the college experiences that tend to lead to post-graduate flourishing, three of which are having a professor who cared about them as a person, a professor who made them excited about learning, and a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.

HBCU grads were more likely to say they’d had all three, compared with black grads of non-HBCUs, Gallup found. It’s kind of heartening to think that the men and women on HBCU faculty who are earning so much less than their peers are making such an outsize difference in the lives of their students.

Interestingly, Gallup also found that HBCU grads were thriving financially, more so than their non-HBCU peers. According to the Advocate, HBCU grads earn less than the national median; it’s also been reported that they earn less than black graduates of non-HBCUs.

But earnings don’t matter as much as sound money management. Perhaps HBCU grads are earning less but managing it better—which would make an enormous difference, perhaps a result of all that mentoring.

For more, see The HBCU Penalty.