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  #1  
Old 04-19-2004, 05:07 PM
Xavier Xavier is offline
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How much do professors at top universities earn?

Not to be vulgar or anything, but I often do wonder about other people's wages, and this one popped into my head. Does the going rate depend on the type of course being taught? If so, how?

Also do the professors get paid more if they are more distinguished amongst collegues ("Oh you know who that is, don't you?").

By "top universities", I mean well established and highly rated institutions, such as Harvard, Oxford or MIT. Is the wage variance between the guys at these kinds of institutions and those professors at the more "lowly" institutions large? What I'm getting at is, does some professor teaching in Oxford earn more than his counterpart in Suffolkshire (made up name, but you get the drift)? If so, why?

I know it's hard to be general about this (there's probably a lot of variance even within universities), but if you could just toss out some ballpark figures, it'd be swell.

Extra Q for anyone who is a professor: Is it like a 9-5 job, or do you feel you have more freedom with it?
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  #2  
Old 04-19-2004, 06:45 PM
Brynda Brynda is offline
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I used to be a professor, but now I do clinical work. At that time, in the early 1990s, pay at lesser known universities started at about 40,000 USD a year. At least that is what psychologists got paid; I don't know if other fields paid more, although I doubt the pay was higher in the social sciences at least. Pay is not based on the numbers of classes you teach.

The reason big names get paid more (how much more, I have no idea) is because they draw students who want to study there. Higher admission rates and getting grants are the name of the game. I would guess that big name universities compete for big name scholars, and we all know what competition does.

I had tons more freedom as a professor than I do now in terms of work hours. On the other hand, if the work isn't done, you have to work late or at home, or somehow get it done. So yes, you can leave at 2 if your classes are over, but you will make it up sometime.
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Old 04-19-2004, 07:00 PM
MikeS MikeS is offline
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This site looks like it'll have a good bit of the information you're looking for, at least for American universities. Specifically, yearly salaries at Harvard are $158k, $92k, $82k, and $52k for full professor, associate professor, assistant professor, and instructor respectively. For MIT the corresponding figures are $135k, $92k, $83k, and $52k. And for comparison, the national averages for private, non-church-affiliated institutions are $122k, $79k, $68k, and $45k.
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  #4  
Old 04-19-2004, 07:54 PM
GorillaMan GorillaMan is offline
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For the UK, there's a simple way to get an idea of salaries - look at vacancies on university websites

Oxford currently has lectureships ranging from £18k - £43k. No regular professorship is listed. (Note for Americans - 'lecturer' in a British university is equivalent to 'professor' in an American one - only the top people in each department get the p-word here.) There is little difference according to the quality of the institution - a random glance at London Metropolitan's website shows lectureships at similar salaries.

I do know from my professor's experience, that when you're being head-hunted by an Ivy League institution, the pay offers soar way above the 'standard' rates already quoted. (And he still turned them down )
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Old 04-19-2004, 08:27 PM
stochasticgirl stochasticgirl is offline
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Yes, the "superstars" will get paid way more than that.

We had no less than four professors in the math department at the University of Texas who earned $250,000 a year. UT is a top 15 math department with a big endowment and high desire to build up their department. Also, during the boom years, the superstar economists were pulling in upwards of $300,000 at top institutions.

Academia is hardly a 9-5 job. My husband is a engineering professor and he's working on research and class material all the time. Nights, weekends, you name it.
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Old 04-19-2004, 08:31 PM
Emilio Lizardo Emilio Lizardo is offline
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I work in a large public university. My department is one of the largest of its type around, and generaly highly ranked, certainly for research. Almost no one with the title of "professor" earns less than 80k and some of our big swinging dicks earn in the 180K - 220k range.

Working for the state, there are no secrets. You can see the whole USM salary guide online. People in the hard sciences like physics and engineering (and economics) do very well; those in history, english and the like not so much.
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  #7  
Old 04-19-2004, 08:40 PM
Emilio Lizardo Emilio Lizardo is offline
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ADDENDUM: Pursuant to a recent Maryland appeals court ruling the football coach revealed that he earns $762,000 per year.
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Old 04-19-2004, 08:46 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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There is a lot more variation than has been listed here, a lot more. It also depends on fields, for example. Chem. Eng. is hot right now, Computer Science used to be. English Lit. has never been hot. So there could easily be $20k difference between junior profs at the same college.

I have it On Very Good Authority that the Ivy League schools are in fact tightwads compared to other similar schools. I've known Assistant Profs at Harvard in Computer Science during the CS heyday who were paid much less than I was. And they weren't happy. Yes, Harvard brings in Big Shots for chaired positions, but the rest of the grunts, who do real work, are treated like crap.
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Old 04-19-2004, 09:17 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GorillaMan
(Note for Americans - 'lecturer' in a British university is equivalent to 'professor' in an American one - only the top people in each department get the p-word here.)
Nitpick - "lecturer" is pretty much like an assistant professor, and "reader" is like an associate professor, and, from what I saw, a British professor is indeed a more rare breed than an American professor.
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  #10  
Old 04-20-2004, 12:05 AM
Trigonal Planar Trigonal Planar is offline
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A few weeks ago our University released its annual list of over 100k salary-earners. Quite a few of my engineering profs were on the list (usually around the 100k - 115k range).
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  #11  
Old 04-20-2004, 02:34 AM
caphis caphis is offline
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The University of Virginia has public figures, though they only go up to 2002.

The President of the University made $329,814 that year. I think the highest paid professor earned slightly over $200,000 (a well known Politics professor), but that's from casual browsing. Check it out if you want.
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Old 04-20-2004, 06:34 AM
Sgt.Pepper Sgt.Pepper is offline
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Here's a guide I found for Ontario universities. It's dated 2002, but I imagine the ratio's are still pretty accurate.

Ontario universities
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  #13  
Old 04-20-2004, 07:09 AM
Yossarian Yossarian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xavier
Extra Q for anyone who is a professor: Is it like a 9-5 job, or do you feel you have more freedom with it?
Absolutely not a 9-5 job, which is one of the many reasons I love my job!

Re: Professor salaries, when it comes down to it, they're all individually negotiated contracts. If you don't have any clout (and starting off, you probably don't), you'll start pretty close to the national average (mid 40s) and after that, it's up to you. Annual merit pay raises are linked to teaching, research, and service (with varying degrees of priority, depending on your institution--and it all might be moot, anyhow, if no Merit monies are available), otherwise pay raises are standard with the two promotions along the career path (assistant to associate, associate to full). Also, different fields typically pay more or less than the average--business, engineering, law, and medicine professors typically earn more than your average professor in arts and sciences.
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Old 04-20-2004, 07:53 AM
zut zut is offline
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Some figures from the other end of the scale:

I happen to be privy to some average salary statistics for a small religious-affiliated institution, but one that offers an array of degrees, including some engineering degrees.

For the university as a whole, last year, average salaries are $53k, $46k, and $38K for a full professor, associate professor, assistant professor, respectively. For the college of engineering, average salaries for the same three levels are $63k, $54k, and $48k.

Couple things to note here. First of all, engineering salaries are about $10k higher than the university average, which implies that there must be some other department(s) that are balancing them out; people who are making lower than the average, in other words. So even here where overall salaries are small, differences between departments probably reach as high as $15k or even $20k.

Second thing is comparison to industry salaries. Average assistant prof salary in engineering at this institution is $48k; this group of people have 1-5 years of faculty experience, all have a PhD, and some have additional experience outside of academia. $48k. My younger brother got his undergraduate degree three years ago, graduated middle of his class, and started out at $45k. He's certainly making more than $48k now.
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Old 04-20-2004, 08:03 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantellerite
Absolutely not a 9-5 job, which is one of the many reasons I love my job!

Re: Professor salaries, when it comes down to it, they're all individually negotiated contracts. If you don't have any clout (and starting off, you probably don't), you'll start pretty close to the national average (mid 40s) and after that, it's up to you. Annual merit pay raises are linked to teaching, research, and service (with varying degrees of priority, depending on your institution--and it all might be moot, anyhow, if no Merit monies are available), otherwise pay raises are standard with the two promotions along the career path (assistant to associate, associate to full). Also, different fields typically pay more or less than the average--business, engineering, law, and medicine professors typically earn more than your average professor in arts and sciences.
An addendum to Pantellerite - I'm a prof at a private Liberal Arts College, I don't believe colleges have been mentioned in this thread. I am in the psychology department, and we (assistant, associate, full profs.) all have individually negotiated contracts. Most of us were farmed from larger universities based on area of experise. I was lucky to get in as adjunct after post grad work...I am the youngest on the psychology faculy staff at 34. Many are 20 years my senior.
I agree with Pantellerite - without the clout to negotiate a higher wage (usually happens to new professors so jazzed they are professors) you'll start in the mid-40's. As with my institution, I was immiediately asked to a salary negotiation meeting not a month after my change from Assistant to Associate Prof. There were many factors in my salary. I was planning on publishing a text with a collegue in my department, I was also involved with publishable research studies, and had opportunities with other area colleges for visiting prof programs. I was very gungho when I started. I have since calmed down a bit
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Old 04-20-2004, 11:26 AM
lawboy lawboy is offline
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Back in the 90's I know that the average salary for associate professor at the University of Chicago was $72,000, this was 1995. I think it was in the school paper.

My uncle at the University of Hawaii makes more than that now, or so he says. However, he makes almost twice what he makes in the private sector (which he does on his off time or when he takes a sabbatical). Granted, he is department chair and has over 35 years experience.
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  #17  
Old 04-20-2004, 05:31 PM
Mathochist Mathochist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xavier
Extra Q for anyone who is a professor: Is it like a 9-5 job, or do you feel you have more freedom with it?
I don't know if I'll be getting a "top university" position, but I can answer this: A large part of why I'm staying in the tower is the freedom of the hours. Say I teach two classes a semester. I have three hours a week of lecturing each and (say) schedule four hours for office hours (which is a bit generous, actually). That's ten hours a week to have to be in any one place at a specific time. The rest I can do whenever and wherever I want. It's convenient for me because I tend to work best between midnight and five or six.
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  #18  
Old 04-20-2004, 05:34 PM
Mathochist Mathochist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilio Lizardo
ADDENDUM: Pursuant to a recent Maryland appeals court ruling the football coach revealed that he earns $762,000 per year.
Don't forget the basketball coach. When I was there as an undergrad he was something like the second-highest paid state employee, even before performance bonuses.
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  #19  
Old 04-20-2004, 05:37 PM
Mathochist Mathochist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg
I have it On Very Good Authority that the Ivy League schools are in fact tightwads compared to other similar schools.
Definitely true for grad students (grumble).

Actually, this brings up a point: are we asking total income or university salary? A lot of the mentioned hard science or engineering earners include grants. I'm sure this is true for the Maryland stats posted earlier. At my institution, math professors and bio professors make almost the same amount from the university, but the bio department gets multibillion dollar government grants so their published salaries are a lot higher.
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  #20  
Old 04-20-2004, 06:20 PM
Aitara Aitara is offline
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Every year, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) conducts an annual salary survey. It is quite comprehensive, although I do not believe it distinguishes between school rankings. The most current one can be found here: http://www.aaup.org/surveys/zrep.htm. The salary information begins about a third of the way down under Rank and Gender. Further down it breaks out disciplines.
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Old 04-20-2004, 07:42 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg
I have it On Very Good Authority that the Ivy League schools are in fact tightwads compared to other similar schools. I've known Assistant Profs at Harvard in Computer Science during the CS heyday who were paid much less than I was. And they weren't happy. Yes, Harvard brings in Big Shots for chaired positions, but the rest of the grunts, who do real work, are treated like crap.
That's often true.

I'm a grad student who hopes to be a professor some day. My field is history, and many recent Ph.D. graduates in this discipline would prefer to be offered a tenure-track position at a good state school or liberal arts college, rather than somewhere like Harvard or Yale.

Some of those highly-prestigious schools have a reputation for paying their assistant professors poorly, and asking them to take on most of the department's teaching load. More importantly in the long run, those schools also tend to retain a smaller percentage of their Assistant Professors when the time comes to make tenure decisions, leaving them once again on the job market.

This is not to say that many people would actually turn down a job at the big Ivy League schools. Even if you don't get tenure, the very fact that they hired you at all still looks good on your resume, and increases your chances of getting another job. And who knows, you might end up being one of the lucky ones who gets to stick around.

As some people have pointed out, salaries also differ widely from discipline to discipline, depending largely on issues of supply and demand. Disciplines that have good non-academic job opportunities can ask for more money, because they have more alternatives and more employers competing for their skills.
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Old 04-20-2004, 08:13 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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Echoing mhendo*, I'm an academic and I've known quite a few professors (many of them extremely intelligent** and extremely nice) who have left Ivy League & Magnolia League*** schools for public colleges and universities. Almost invariably it was because the pay was just as good or better (especially when cost of living was adjusted) and more importantly the publish-or-perish climate is absolutely out of control, especially for untenured faculty. (Ivy League & peer schools llooooooong ago forgot that college is first and foremost and primarily about educating students- public research universities have forgotten this also, but not quite as much.)

A friend who works for CNN said that one of the few funny things that happened during the week of 9-11 was the large number of professors (religion, political science, sociology, history, etc.) from all around the country calling to offer their expert advice and wanting to be quoted or, preferably, interviewed about the situation. All of them were desperate for exposure (and the few who had actually published books on the Taliban and or Osama suddenly became very wealthy overnight).
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Old 04-20-2004, 08:15 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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Forgot the endnotes to the above:

*That sounds like the title of an arthouse film.

**Trust me, "has a Ph.D" and "is highly intelligent" are no more synonymous than "no formal education" is with "unintelligent".

***Magnolia League is the term for prestigious private southern institutions (e.g. Vanderbilt, Emory, Spring Hill, etc.)
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  #24  
Old 04-20-2004, 08:17 PM
Mathochist Mathochist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhendo
those schools also tend to retain a smaller percentage of their Assistant Professors when the time comes to make tenure decisions
If they ever make tenure decisions. My department hasn't made a new tenure (only hired pre-tenured faculty) in almost twenty years.
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Old 04-20-2004, 08:24 PM
Mathochist Mathochist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro
Ivy League & peer schools llooooooong ago forgot that college is first and foremost and primarily about educating students
I don't think this is necessarily so. The academy must be both about increasing the store of human knowledge and passing that on to the society at large. In many disciplines there simply isn't any other place for new work to take place but the academy. Yes, private firms can (and do) well support a lot of cutting-edge computer science and engineering research, but ultimately they're focused on the bottom line. In fact, it could be better stated that universities have forgotten that the academy is not first and foremost about making money.
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  #26  
Old 04-21-2004, 06:58 AM
Yossarian Yossarian is offline
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Something else that bears mentioning: Although it is true that if I'd gone into industry, I'd be making much more money than I am as an Asst. Prof., it's also true that my relativley meager salary (mid 40s) is for a NINE-month contract (Sept. to May) during which I get a month off for Christmas, a week off for spring break, nearly a week off for Thanksgiving &c. IF I decide to teach classes in the summer, I can increase my salary by about 1/9 of my annual base pay per class (usually up to four classes), otherwise I can spend my summers doing the research *I* want to do instead of something assigned to me. The apparent "pay cut" is well worth the time and freedom to me, at least.

(P.S., I'm at a largeish [15,000 student] public university with more of a teaching ["student-centered"] focus than a strong research mission, although research is encouraged and supported.)
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Old 04-21-2004, 07:23 AM
Phlosphr Phlosphr is offline
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Originally posted by Pantellerite I'd be making much more money than I am as an Asst. Prof., it's also true that my relativley meager salary (mid 40s) is for a NINE-month contract (Sept. to May) during which I get a month off for Christmas, a week off for spring break, nearly a week off for Thanksgiving &c. IF I decide to teach classes in the summer, I can increase my salary by about 1/9 of my annual base pay per class (usually up to four classes), otherwise I can spend my summers doing the research *I* want to do instead of something assigned to me. The apparent "pay cut" is well worth the time and freedom to me, at least.
I do not know what institution you work for, but as a full Prof. I find my summers are extremely busy. [last sumemr I was on a little hiatus, but that was not usual] If I am not teaching summer session I am on summer sabbatical. I have taken summer sabbatical several times during my tenure here and it is always a wonderfulk experience. Two summers ago I was in Italy researching with an Italian Psychologist.
Maybe you can explore summer away programs for profs...Again I do not know your institution but if there are opportunities to study elsewhere, they should not be overlooked.
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Old 04-21-2004, 08:05 AM
Yossarian Yossarian is offline
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Originally Posted by Phlosphr
I do not know what institution you work for, but as a full Prof. I find my summers are extremely busy. [last sumemr I was on a little hiatus, but that was not usual]
(I'd e-mail you this, Phlosphr, but I haven't coughed up the $5 yet!)

One problem I face in my field (Geology) is that field-work is a major part of research, and with classes dominating Sept to May, Summer becomes the only time I can get time in the field--especially if I my research area is far away (which it is, since I'm a hard-rock geologist surrounded by soft-rocks). So, I can squeeze in a quick 4-week session of Summer teaching before I leave, but that's about it. This summer, I've got a grad student working under me that I'm spending 6 weeks with out in the desert, for instance...

We do have a teach-abroad program in the Summer; I may submit a proposal for next year.
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Old 04-21-2004, 11:12 AM
CrankyAsAnOldMan CrankyAsAnOldMan is offline
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In academe, Harvard has long had the reputation of bringing in junior faculty at a low rate of pay with little intention of tenuring them. They come for the cachet of Harvard and the chance (presumably) to work with top students, and they get hired away by other places who are happy to snap them up. Harvard may not be only one, but that is certainly the way Harvard is talked about.

Credible surveys of faculty which have included time studies show that most faculty put in well over 40 hours a week on their job. Now, on the one hand, they are not tied to campus from 9-5 each day, and have considerable flexibility once they fulfill teaching and advising commitments. On the other hand, there is always more to do and no clear boundaries on working hours. So yes, they have flexibility, but they spend many hours on what they do and some of them have a hard time finding time for their families/lives outside of academe. It's one of the reasons I didn't find a faculty job wholly appealing.
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Old 04-21-2004, 11:22 AM
Mathochist Mathochist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyAsAnOldMan
Credible surveys of faculty which have included time studies show that most faculty put in well over 40 hours a week on their job. Now, on the one hand, they are not tied to campus from 9-5 each day, and have considerable flexibility once they fulfill teaching and advising commitments. On the other hand, there is always more to do and no clear boundaries on working hours. So yes, they have flexibility, but they spend many hours on what they do and some of them have a hard time finding time for their families/lives outside of academe. It's one of the reasons I didn't find a faculty job wholly appealing.
It really depends what you count as "on the job". Does me sitting around reading a book on mathematical attacks on the theory of Go endgames count? I'm not doing active research in the field, but it always pays to be well-read. Does sitting around in the department flipping through the LRB or the NYT count? I'm in the office, but not really doing "work".

It really depends what field you're talking about. If your work requires field time, that's a fixed requirement. If it requires referring to noncirculating media, that's more time you have to be in one particular place for some length of time. If your (non-teaching) work basically boils down to reading and thinking, you're golden.
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