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Report reveals UMD athletics prioritized over educators, researchers

Brick sign reading "University of Maryland" with plants in front
Carmichael Library via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
University of Maryland

A report commissioned by employee unions shows the University of Maryland College Park has been sharply increasing top administrators’ salaries while leaving lower-ranking employees behind.

The report, released at an AFSCME press conference Monday, revealed among other things top administrators’ salaries rose by roughly 37% between 2016 and 2020 while those of educators and researchers rose between 10 and 12%.

History professor Holly Brewer said the school is operating more like a business.

“There has been a disproportionate growth in salaries of top-level administrators while the rest of the salaries of everyone else on campus, including the instructional staff and the frontline workers have barely kept pace with inflation” she said.

The report by Howard Bunsis, an accounting professor at Eastern Michigan University, found that the number of tenure-track faculty decreased by 6.9% over the five years he studied while that of “lower paid and precariously employed contingent faculty” increased by 19% and the employment of graduate teaching assistants increased by 11%.

Bunsis, who was commissioned by the University of Maryland College Park chapter of the American Association of University Professors which represents faculty, AFSCME Local 1072 which represents University of Maryland staff, and the Fearless Student Employees, who represent graduate students, found $132.5 million for the university’s athletic program was financed in large part by taxpayers and students between 2013 and 2020.

Ph.D. student Sam DiBella said graduate student employees— who don't have collective bargaining rights—often can’t make ends meet. But, they still have to contribute part of their salaries to supporting university athletics.

“This year the minimum stipend for graduate students was $21,000. And the fees were $1,600, which is a significant percentage, and athletics makes up $400 Each semester of that, it's almost half of the fee that we pay,” he said.

The university said in a statement its budget priorities are aligned with a recently released strategic plan and that they will be reviewing the entire report.

Callan Tansill-Suddath is a State House Reporter for WYPR, where she covers the General Assembly.