What’s Your Hourly Rate, Professor?

3 steps toward a reality check.

Rose Ernst
3 min readSep 1, 2020


Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

“Just because you’re better at doing something doesn’t mean you doing it is the most productive use of your time.”―Tiffany Dufu, Drop the Ball: Achieving More by Doing Less

The ongoing atrocities of the past week, this time in Kenosha, have had me thinking about faculty health, and mental health in particular. Yes, student health is a precious and urgent need, but who will care for the faculty?

All too often, this issue falls on the shoulders of professors themselves. Until institutions respond, it, unfortunately, falls to you, as individuals — and hopefully small pockets of friends and allies — to care for yourself.

Step 1

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So you can say:

The first step is to say “no” so you can say “yes” to your health. I know you’ve heard it before, but try listening again. I recommend you check out Professor Angelique Davis’ webinar on saying “no” with the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, as well as her recent conversation with Professor Rosemarie Roberts about boundaries and well-being. And find a friend to be your “no committee”!

Step 2

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Second, if you find yourself still being roped into “worthy” causes that turn out to be both ineffective and monumental drains on your time and energy, calculate your hourly rate.


And I want you to include all that time you spend talking about your job and thinking about it.

I used to make $70,000 after taxes (while being tenured and chair) in Seattle.