Investing in faculty salaries and student services pays off for grads

Investing in faculty salaries and student services yield key returns, including better undergraduate employment outcomes, according to new research from Wake Forest University.

An article in the Nov. 2 issue of Inside Higher Ed, “The Case for Better Faculty Pay,” featured the study co-authored by Amanda Griffith, economics professor at Wake Forest, and Kevin Rask, research professor in the economics and business Department at Colorado College.

The results show that for colleges and universities looking for the most return on investment, spending on faculty and student services make it significantly more likely that a graduate will not only gain full-time employment, but also land a job that closely matches their skill set formed in college.

According to “The Effect of Institutional Expenditures on Employment Outcomes and Earnings,” spending on instruction, or faculty salaries, has the most payoff for disadvantaged students who may benefit from better instruction and more high-quality classes.

Spending on student services includes things like career development, tutoring and student organizations. Investment in this area seems to have the most payoff for more advantaged students who are familiar with how to take advantage of leadership, networking and internship opportunities.

The findings also mean that disadvantaged students can compensate for a lack of resources earlier in their educational experiences by attending institutions with high-quality faculty, Griffith said. That’s because such students may benefit from better instruction and more high-quality classes.

“The research highlights the importance of high-quality faculty, as well as the importance of educational student services,” said Griffith. “Increased spending in these areas benefits students — putting their tuition dollars to good use.”

In 2012, Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch outlined his vision for providing significant support for faculty through endowed chairs that give ongoing support for professors in these prestigious positions. This Presidential Chair initiative, is made possible through Wake Will: The Campaign for Wake Forest, which has raised more than $520 million for the Reynolda Campus.

“Amanda and Kevin’s research shows that Wake Forest’s ongoing commitment to supporting long-term student success after college is well-placed,” said Dean of Wake Forest College Michele Gillespie. “The success of our capital campaign allows the University to continue investing in attracting and retaining the best faculty and empowering innovative leaders to provide top-notch student resources, such as our nationally recognized personal and career development services.”

Faculty and career outcomes at Wake Forest

  • Learn more about Wake Forest Presidential Chairs for faculty.
  • Help fund academic excellence at Wake Forest through Wake Will.
  • Find the latest Wake Forest graduate first destination data by major here.

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