UO squeaks past WSU, by 8 points!

Update: WSU President Elson Floyd on leadership and his voluntary pay cut:

Leadership: I believe very strongly in leadership by example-in working very hard at what we do-and I work hard to inculcate those values at our institution every day. When we faced the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, all of us had to make many sacrifices. I’m not a wealthy person, but I voluntarily reduced my salary by $100,000. I’ve asked my faculty to teach additional sections and to engage in more research because we have to do more with less. I’m also teaching a course this fall on top of a very complicated schedule. It’s about leadership by example.

But read this WSU blogger for a more skeptical view. And you have to wonder how much WSU blew attempting to defend Floyd for his firing of Professor Demers, in the free speech case.


Salary data from the Chronicle, which includes engineering, but not med schools. Acreage from Wikipedia. Athletics budget from USA Today. SAT scores from Uncle Bernie.

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30 Responses to UO squeaks past WSU, by 8 points!

  1. Anonymous says:

    The new SAT feature a very welcome and relevant piece of information!

    • UO Matters says:

      Thank Bernie for it. I was thinking of comparing SAT’s per acre, instead of per student, but despite what he thinks I do have some principles ;).

  2. Anon says:

    Zillow give basic data comparing locations – http://www.zillow.com/compare/eugene-or-vs-pullman-wa/

  3. awesome0 says:

    Try ACCRA. Its the datasource everybody uses for cost of living calculators. In detailed breakdown for Pullman vs. Eugene it suggests food is way more expensive in Pullman which is because of ***sales taxes****. No adjustment for income tax is mentioned. The ACCRA is based on going to different cities buying the same basket of goods and seeing the difference in the sales price. I brought up the housing crisis to show how fragile cost of living comparisons can be. You started by saying professors were better off. I just showed an example of something that has affect many professors here and is probably part of the reason some feel a financial pinch.

    I agree about recruiting better students. Two ways to do this. 1. Better faculty and smaller classes 2. Better financial aid to recruit the best students with better scholarships I’m sure our enrollment expansions which has led to 100,000,000’s in new tuition accounts for the SAT scores not being higher as well. Keep enrollment fixed and they’ll go up.

    The point about about good students, I’ll try to simply things a bit for you. You get a job offer at two places. Same load, Same resources. The difference is one is dumb students and the other has smart students. Which job do you take? I think most of us take the job with smart students. Student quality from our point of view is part of working conditions. Higher quality students is the same thing as a better working condition. Awesome students make my classes, office hours, and interactions with students overall better. Put in other words, some one would have to pay me a lot more to teach students whose average SAT was 900.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      OK, ACCRA. googled on it. Capital of Ghana. Also a company that apparently makes golf clubs. “Get shafted with ACCRA.” Gotta love that!

      OK, finally came to the ACCRA cost of living website. It seems to list only Portland and Klamath Falls among Oregon cities! (Unlike the website I have been using, Sperling’s, which may use the same data, but is more convenient for my taste.)

      OK, looked around for how ACCRA treats taxes. Doesn’t sound like they try to take them into account. Here’s what I found, jumping from a link in Indiana to


      judge for yourself:

      “Exclusion of Taxes
      C2ER is fully cognizant that state and local taxes are an integral part of the cost of living, and that tax burdens vary widely not only among states and metropolitan areas, but even within each metropolitan area. Due to the multiplicity of state and local taxes, taxing jurisdictions, and assessment procedures, it is not feasible to calculate local tax burdens reliably. C2ER has opted to produce an index which adequately measures differences in goods and services costs, rather than to produce an inaccurate measure which attempts to incorporate taxes levied on real and intangible property, retail sales, and income.”

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Re the SAT scores — a topic dear to my heart. Try telling the administrators at WOU or PSU or SOU that their faculty should get paid more because they have lower SATs than UO.

      You turned down Colorado as I recall, no? Sounds like you made a mistake — housing allowance, higher salaries, higher SATs. Buyer’s remorse? I hope not.

    • Oryx says:

      It’s a bit off topic, but I’d love to see the distributions of SAT scores, not just the mean, for students at UO and other places. Is it just me, or do we have a disturbingly high fraction of students whose reading level I’d gauge at about sixth grade? It frustrates me, and students also have complained about what it does to the pace of classes.

    • Anonymous says:

      25th – 75th percentile distribution: 489-608 SAT reading, 502-616 SAT math. About a quarter of freshmen have below the 2013 SAT reading mean of 496. More distribution stats on pp. 8-9 of Common Data Set (question C9) available on IR homepage:

      You can get other institutions’ data by Googling “Common Data Set.”

    • Oryx says:

      Thanks for the quick and useful responses!

    • Anonymous says:

      Groceries are exempt from sales tax in Washington.

  4. Awesome0 says:

    And I almost forgot to mention that cost of living calculators look at prices of goods and adjust for differences there, but do not adjust for differences in income taxes. That’s quite important because Washington has no income tax, but a high sales tax. The high sales tax leads to higher net prices paid, therefor the adjust the cost of living calculator to make Washington look expensive. But it does not take into account the fact that we pay close to 10 percent in income taxes in Oregon.

    I know in the past you have dismissed tax differences Bernie, but in this context (for cost of living calculations) you must admit the calculators (all of which adjust for data from ACRA) is biased for not accounting for income taxes.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      There’s no indication that I can find that the Sperling’s cost of living comparer does or does not take taxes into account, either sales or income taxes.

      My own estimate for myself after living in many places and here in Eugene for quite a while is that I might be better off by 1 or 2% of my total income if we had a sales tax here. Not enough to make up for the joy of not having to deal with all that change! But to each his own.

      It seems that whatever the comparison — high cost of living, low; higher salaries than UO, lower; houses underwater bought at the peak, or above water bought at bargain prices — you come up with the conclusion that UO faculty have it bad.

      If our associate professors are really worse off for not having gone to Pullman, having misjudged the future real estate markets, well, they made their choice, now it’s their responsibility. My advice might be to cool it for a while and they’ll probably see how things average out over the long run.

      I’m not at all sure that the cost of living comparisons are biased for not accounting for income taxes.

      Good students should be equated with lower wages??? I don’t quite get that, maybe they understand that logic at Harvard or Stanford.

      My real point about the SAT’s is that UO faculty should not get too high up on our high horse when comparing ourselves to others. That, and the UO admin should really keep their eye on the low SAT scores here if they want to keep our marginal ass in the AAU. Even if someone in the Legislature goes off about how elitist we are. We’re not!

      ACRA — you got me there — Application Crash Report for Android is the first thing that comes up on google.

    • Cougar journalism professor says:

      Stalin had Siberia. Washington has Pullman. It pays a bit better than the gulag, but it’s colder, windier, and has less free speech. Good luck with your fight for more pay, but Wazzu is not your best pick for a comparator. Go Ducks!

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Our condolences, to your school, your faculty, to Pullman, to your team (which at least made it a bit of a game, I tuned out after it was 12-0 with over 8 min. left in the first quarter, only able to finish one case of beer.)

      I hear they have better cultural amenities in Siberia, too.

      At least I hope you appreciate that you have superior undergrads to teach!

  5. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Awesome, thanks for your close attention to my usual mode of analysis, I was waiting to see if anyone would bring up the cost of living angle — uncle is honest, but also likes to see if the kiddos are awake, including the new faculty.

    So, I assume you have already checked out the relative cost of living in Eugene and Pullman, as you can here:


    and you are aware that the cost of living index is higher in Pullman, 110 to 107. So I will boo-hoo a bit more for our poor Washington State colleagues. (I’m in no position to compare neighborhoods in these two august metropoleis, and besides, I don’t think the South Bronx cancels out the Upper West Side, the Berkeley Flats the Hills.) But, as you would perhaps agree, acknowledge, the cost of living differential in this case is so small as to be negligible.

    Is our research output superior? I hope so, but we like to think the same about Oregon State, and I’m not so sure on that, when you compare everything.

    (Washington State’s engineering school is superior to ours, so is their medical school. Hey, are those faculty salaries masking how poor the WSU salaries generally are?)

    And is sending graduate students into the private sector inferior to placing them in TT positions? The undergraduates at WSU apparently don’t mind!

    Anyhow, I think you get it about the SAT scores. And they’re even higher at Colorado. Will let you check on our other “comparators.”

    I’ll check on Stanford before that big game and report back here.

    Unless UOMatters beats me to it.

    Oh, that’s right, UOMatters will be reporting on $$/acre that the presidents make. Another shocking revelation coming, I’m sure!

    • awesome0 says:

      From a compensating wage differential, good students should be equated with lower wages. That’s why holding research opportunities fixed (basically comparing a place like William and Mary to UO), salaries are generally higher here. Having awesome students is an amenity just like sunshine.

      Regarding cost of living, I do thing those indices miss somethings. For instance, if you were to like a price of housing based on characteristics of the housing (lot size, sqft, distance to campus) the UO is more expensive.

      Also home prices fell here by a good 20-35 percent in the housing recession. In Pullman, no drop at all. This suggests home prices would be much higher here had there not been so much construction in 2005-2008. It also suggests that the housing market in Eugene saddled many of our current associate professors with an additional 60,000 in debt they’ll be paying off over the next 30 years. That is probably the comparison they have in mind when thinking should they have taken the job in Eugene vs Pullman. Take the job at Pullman, and no underwater mortgage to worry about. Although its a sunk cost (in terms of the decision to go from here to there), its a part of their cost of living here vs. their counterfactual of taking a job in Pullman 8 years ago.

      Not that I know the exact right to account for these differences, but I think a hedonic model would do

  6. Awesome0 says:

    Bernie, Bernie, Bernie

    Don’t you usually point out cost of living differences….
    Unless the places are about the same (and really Eugene is more expensive if you throw out Danebo because really who would ever live in Danebo??).

    Also you have the causality the wrong way. If our students suck, we should get paid more, because its harder to teacher crappy students. Usually the reason pay is higher at places with higher SAT scores is because of research output quality, which happen to be imperfectly correlated with student quality.

    Bottom line, despite the fact that WSU has more state support, our research output is superior, hence we are paid more. At least comparing across the departments I am most familiar with, this definitely holds. Also, their grad students go into the private sector, ours have a very high placement rate in TT positions.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      A detailed reply got posted here and then disappeared, perhaps UOMatters has an explanation.

    • UO Matters says:

      caught by spam – posted now

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      OK, ignore that, it reappeared, below.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Hope Dr. Gottfredson and Enrollment Management are as attentive as your spam catcher. Especially to the SAT stuff, which UO has seriously neglected for like, oh, 50 years.

      I’m going to leave now to lay in a case or two for the game. A lot to ponder!

  7. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    It’s not all about money! I figure UO, being an AAU, non-land grant, non aggie school, devoted to the higher pursuits, must have a superior student body to justify the superior faculty salaries relative to Washington State.

    So, let’s compare SAT scores of the undergraduate student body. This is something the rumor mills say the UO administration is trying to improve to help us keep our ass in the AAU.

    The UO website says the median UO SAT score is 1110 (critical reading and math combined, actually, inferred by using 25 – 75 percentile range). But to compare with Washington State, I’ll go to a site that compares many schools:


    From this I infer a median score of 1108. Close enough. UO is claiming that this year’s class has record SAT scores, 1126. They must really be worried about that AAU membership!

    But surely UO is far more lustrous than poor old boondocks Washington State. So let’s take a look and be really smug for the big game tonight:


    Washington State median SAT is 1150. Huhh?? What the hell? Washington State has better students than UO?


    Well, OK, whatever, mutter mutter.

    Our faculty draws superior pay, their faculty draws superior students.

    We have the Ducks, they have the Cougars.

    At least UO has its priorities straight.

    Besides, we’ll have a chance to compare with Stanford soon enough.

    Go Ducks!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Uncle Bernie is turning into a bit of a dick.

  9. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    But surely, it’s not all about money, or even who has the most acres (though thinking to focus on the latter is surely a tremendous insight, got to hand it to UOMatters!)

    No, surely UO faculty are so well compensated because of the superior academic stature of UO relative to the lowly, land-grant, OSU-ish, rural, benighted, Washington State.

    Uncle Bernie will attempt to look into this and report back later this weekend with some hard facts!

    • UO Matters says:

      Thanks Bernie, a spreadsheet would be great.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Spreadsheets too arcane for old Uncle — I specialize in fourth-grade math, it seems to be adequate to the tasks I set myself — I see that you are more advanced in the graphics line — thanks for acknowledging the source of your added data — and I’m sure the many student readers here will appreciate your taking them into consideration under my gentle influence.

  10. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    While we’re at it about money, while UOMatters does not have access to accounting or economics learning, Uncle Bernie nonethelss takes UOMatters to task for not including differential pension benefits, after having offered patient instruction on several game weekends and other occasions.

    Washington State, like UW, offers employer pension payments that average about 7-8%, as I documented last weekend. While UO offers employer pension payments (employer contriubtion + pickup) that average about 17%, as I’ve endless documented here.

    So let’s take a factor of 1.09 = (1.17 – .08) to account for salary + pension, and let’s take UOMatters’ overall faculty averages. We get 78.5 x 1.09/73.0 = 1.17.

    Big win for UO faculty!

  11. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Money — so crass! — I would think UOMatters might look at something more along academic lines. It’s not as if UOMatters has anything to do with economics or something. But it’s all about money!

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