Influence of 1945 -1975 History

Influence of 1945 -1975 on Present Day Higher Education

Finances during this era reflect the earlier influences from the Colonial era just as they impact the financial future of American higher education. Colsson (2010) states three ways in which the study of historical events contributes to current events. First, it allows us to understand the foundational grounds to move forward toward a better future. Second, this understanding allows people to create and customize solutions to current problems. Lastly, it helps us to understand ourselves. The understanding of the foundational contributions of finances in American higher education lead to an ability to alter current practices.

history of higher education 1945 -1975

Salaries and Benefits

One of the greatest pieces of American higher education finances is toward the application of staff salaries and benefits. Amherst College in Amherst Massachusetts claims that approximately half of its $155 million goes toward the benefits and salaries of faculty and staff(Boultier, 2010). This statistic remains consistent across the educational field as other institutions of higher education put forward their spending expenses (Bates College, 2009; Smith College, 2010; Tam, 2010). However, this financial obligation was not always true in higher education.

During the Colonial era, faculty received little pay for their vocation. There were few professors. Most of the faulty consisted of tutors who were “thankful for their subsistence” (Cohen & Kisker, 2010, p 30). Despite the feeble pay schedule the duties of these professionals outweighed many of the duties of current faculty members. They not only taught the students but frequently lived with them, monitored their students’ comportment and discipline and were even frequently discouraged from marrying as they had to watch these boarded students all day.

The 1945 to 1975 era demonstrated a markedly different compensation schedule. Salaries for faculty and staff still contributed to be half of the budget as does current day expenses. However, the compensation did not match the inflation rate. At the beginning of the era, the median salary for a professor was $6,015 compared to the end of the era which increased to $15,622. Yet, this gain in income did not mark the increase in the inflation rate (Cohen & Kisker, 2010).

This inability to match the inflation rate continues in today’s academic world. During 2009, the recession greatly determined academic pay. Professors were given an annual pay raise of 1.2 percent (from an average of $109,843 salary) which was the smallest pay increase in the last 50 years. The 1.2 percent pay raise could not compensate for the 2.7 percent inflation rate of the same year. This pay discrepancy was consistent across higher education in both public and private schools from vocational to comprehensive universities (Lewin, 2010).


Other expenditures in higher education which compose the additional 50% of the budget include instructional fees, academic support, student services, maintenance and administrative fees (Bates College, 2010). These expenses are maintained through the continued support of public and private funds. Bates College (2010), a private institution, claims that 72% of its income is derived through student tuition and only 14% through government support. Compare this statistic to the public sector. The University of California (2010) receives 38% of its budget revenue from student tuition whereas 50% is derived from governmental support.Newcastle University, Armstrong Building

Funding, one of the major responsibilities of earlier college presidents and governing boards, demanded greater attention. To meet this demand, institutions of higher education created departments to acquisition funds. This led to more opportunities as colleges opened a new career for philanthropy. The Center of Philanthropy, maintained by Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), provides students and professionals with “the historical and philanthropic context, the current issues, and the art and science of fundraising and philanthropy. You gain the knowledge needed to build your organization’s resources with confidence and success in an ever-changing society” (IUPUI, 2010, p 1).

This educational resource has obvious need in the current economic forecast. Many public and private universities report the need for budget cutbacks. Montana State University reports the impending budget cutbacks as they lose continued support from state funding. The state governor proposed a 5% decrease in budget support which equates to $7.6 million (Pickett, 2010). This cutback raises a substantial financial threat to a university which obtains a majority of its income from governmental support. Additionally, Montana state has sliced its financial support of its state university from 73% to 47% (Stand Up for Education, 2010).

These cutbacks are passed down from state to institution to the students, faculty and staff. The University of Texas will be forced to eliminate 10% of staff and faculty to meet these cutbacks. Compare this to Utah State. These state universities will lose up to 600 positions. This relates to a problem for students as the ratio between student and faculty is greatly effected (Perrone, 2010).


The overall foundation of finances in higher education has made little progress since its infancy in the history of the United States. The major concerns of institutions through the decades and centuries continues to center around the limited resources available to them. These financial resources are competed for as universities and colleges struggle to maintain solid footing during times of economic uncertainty.


Bates College. (2009). Budget and Finance Advisory Committee FAQs. Retrieved from

Boultier, E. (2010). Trustees explain endowment losses and budget plans. Retrieved from

Cohen, A. & Kisker, C. (2010). The shaping of American higher education: Emergence and growth of the contemporary system. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Colsson, R. (2010). Understanding how history affects our present and future. Retrieved from Present-and-Future&id=3945634

IUPUI. (2010). The fundraising school. Retrieved from

Lewin, T. (2010). Study Finds a 1.2 Percent Increase in Faculty Pay, the Smallest in 50 Years. Retrieved from

Perrone, C. (2010).   State budget cuts may terminate 600 UT employees. Retrieved from

Pickett, M. (2010). Regents to look at university system budget cuts Thursday. Retrieved from  article_671d9d96-0abb-11df-abc8-001cc4c002e0.html

Smith College. (2010). Grant Budget Rates and Information. Retrieved from   

Stand Up for Education. (2010). Higher education funding issues. Retrieved from

Tam, D. (2010). College of the Redwoods: Closing campuses, reducing benefits possible solutions to budget crunch. Retrieved from

University of California. (2010). 2009-2010 projected revenue. Retrieved from   



Tracy Harrington-Atkinson

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the mid-west with her husband. She loved storytelling and sharing her stories with her children. As they grew, she started writing her stories down for them. She is a teacher, having taught from elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, masters in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. Her husband, Kerry and Tracy breed miniature dachshunds and love to spend time with their growing family. She has published several books including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel's 8 and Securing Your Tent.

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