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A Close Look at TCU’s 4% Raise for 2022-23

Like many TCU employees, I was delighted when I heard the news that the Board of Trustees approved a 4% salary raise pool for the 2022-23 academic year. At the same time, I was curious how this compared to the various compensation changes that have occurred over the last several years.

And a lot has happened. Specifically:

  • 2019-20 was the last “usual” year, in terms of employee compensation.
  • In 2020-21, TCU cut the employee retirement contribution from 11.5% to 8.0%, for a total decrease of 30.43% in retirement compensation. Also, TCU initially did not provide a raise out of concern for the effect of the pandemic, but in December, they raised full-time employee compensation 3% for the remaining portion of the academic year.
  • In 2021-22, TCU gave no permanent raise to base pay, but did give employees a 3% bonus (with no additional retirement pay accruing from that bonus).
  • And, looking ahead to 2022-23, we now anticipate a 4% raise pool.

I spreadsheeted all this out, using a salary of $70,000 as an example. Obviously there are employees at TCU that make less than this, and some make considerably more. The overall trends and percentages apply regardless of salary. This example also assumes the employee had no promotions, is fully vested in the retirement plan, and received the full 4% merit raise for 2022-23 (in reality, some may receive somewhat more or less depending on procedures within their unit).


Comparing 2019-20 to 2022-23, this works out to a 3.76% raise in total compensation, spread across 4 academic years.

Of course, a big national news story right now is inflation. I don’t expect TCU to solve that thorny problem, but I was still curious what inflation has done to these raises. So, I used the Bureau of Labor & Statistics inflation calculator for the March preceding the particular academic year. This is not only around the time when the salary letter is released, but that approach also allows us to use the best available data about the economic situation now.

 TotalInflation factorConverted to 2022 dollars
2021-22$80,031 1.0854$86,866

This comes to an effective decrease of 8.39% across these four years. If it is true that the cost of living in DFW has risen faster than in other areas of the country, this may be an underestimate. Again, I do not expect TCU to solve the inflation hammering many sectors of the economy. Yet it is worth considering the extent to which these economic patterns influence faculty and staff satisfaction, as well as recruitment and retention.

Finally, I was curious how TCU’s situation compares to other universities. Drawing on data from the recently released 2021-22 AAUP faculty compensation survey, I compared TCU to a set of 27 other colleges and universities. Schools were included if they were either (a) one of our ten self-defined institutional peers and/or (b) one of the US News & World Report nationally-ranked public schools that was within twelve spots above or below TCU in terms of assistant professor pay in 2019-20.

This analysis revealed a small increase in compensation for TCU’s associate professors, but reduction in salary for assistant and full professors. TCU is just one of eight schools that reduced assistant professor compensation, and our full professor compensation decreased more sharply than almost any other school. So it appears we are not only moving backward in compensation due to inflation, but also relative to comparable nationally-ranked private institutions.

It is worth noting that these changes have also occurred amid reduction in the size of the faculty. According to TCU’s Institutional Research, the size of the full-time faculty decreased from 727 in fall 2019 to 699 in fall 2021, a decrease of 3.85%, while the size of the student body rose from a fall 2019 FTE of 10,756 to a fall 2021 FTE of 11,726, an increase of 9.02%.

Of course, the situation would be even bleaker had TCU not given the delayed 3% raise in 2020-21, the 3% bonus in 2021-22, and the 4% merit raise pool in 2022-23. At the same time, these moves could mask the reality that TCU is investing fewer financial resources in the employees that fulfill its core academic mission. This seems inconsistent with our strategic goals to improve our academic profile and strengthen the workforce.

I hope this analysis proves useful as TCU continues to discuss the future of our university.


Published by andrewledbetter

I am a professor of communication studies at Texas Christian University. In my research program, I investigate how people use communication technology to maintain close ties with friends, family, and romantic partners.

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