Disparities between medical school, engineering school salaries

Top-paid engineering, health system employees vary greatly in pay


The maximum engineering salary is over $200,000 less than that of the School of Medicine.

Richard Dizon | Cavalier Daily

According to the salary information released to The Cavalier Daily under the Freedom of Information Act, the maximum salary earned by employees in the Engineering School is $395,200, while the maximum salary for employees in the School of Medicine is $600,000.

This difference in maximum salaries is also mirrored by the difference in average salaries, as the average employee in the School of Medicine earns $81,115.06 per year. On the other hand, the average salary for an employee in the Engineering School is $78,895 — which is lower than in the School of Medicine. As the standard deviation for salaries in the Engineering School is larger than that for the salaries in the School of Medicine by over $10,000, the Engineering School has a larger distribution of salaries from the average compared to the School of Medicine. However, the Engineering School, with 614 employees, is also much smaller in comparison to the School of Medicine with 2,750 employees.

Analysis of salary pay for only associate professors, assistant professors, professors, lecturers and University professors indicates that the Engineering School has a higher mean salary. The average in the Engineering School for professors is $141,918.10, while in the Medical School it is $121,328.50.

The highest paid employees in both the School of Medicine and the Engineering School are their deans — David S. Wilkes and Craig Benson, respectively. Wilkes has a salary of $600,000 per year while Benson has a salary of $395,200 per year.

As dean of the Engineering School, Benson acts as the chief executive officer. According to Benson, salaries for individuals in the Engineering School are based on the market price for the specific discipline.

“All our salaries are market based just like they are in the School of Medicine,” Benson said. “So, for example, if you’re into mechanical engineering, the faculty salaries of mechanical engineering are based on what the market is for mechanical engineering — both in industry and in academia. You’re competing in this engineering market place — whether it’s mechanical, computer science or civil — and the market for employment for those disciplines is what drives those salaries.”

While Wilkes is the highest paid employee in the School of Medicine, Dr. Richard Shannon, the Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, is the highest paid employee in the entire University Health System with an annual salary of $742,600. The University Health System is comprised of the School of Medicine, the medical center, the health and sciences library and the school of nursing.

“My job is to make sure that all of my people have everything they need to be able to do their job perfectly and to provide what patients need when they need it on time, the first time — no defect, no error, no waste,” Shannon said.

Shannon meets with health care providers such as nurses and therapists daily to see what they need so that they can do their job better. He also spends his time talking to legislators in both Richmond and Washington, D.C. regarding health care policies.

Shannon worked his way up from humble origins as the son of a teacher and gas station owner to his current position. He credits much of his success to the people he has been surrounded by.

“I am a great judge of talent and a great recruiter of talent,” Shannon said. “Anything I have accomplished in my life is because I have been surrounded by great talent. That allows a lot of people to make up for any of my own shortfalls.”

Wilkes was not available for comment.

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