Alberto Martinez

In 2012, History associate professor Alberto Martinez aided in writing a report for the history department which focused on current issues affecting associate professors at UT. Despite having higher rankings than assistant professors and at times working at the university longer, their salaries aren’t necessarily higher. 

Photo Credit: Claire Trammel | Daily Texan Staff

Associate professors may be ranked higher than assistant professors, but that does not mean their salaries are likely to rise as quickly, according to The Daily Texan’s analysis of University data.

Not accounting for inflation, from 2010 to 2013, associate professor salaries in the College of Liberal Arts increased 5.8 percent, while assistant professor salaries increased 10.5 percent. 

Martha Newman, associate professor and department chair of religious studies, said the discrepancy between increases in salaries is partly influenced by the market for new faculty. According to Newman, to ensure the University continues to hire the best scholars, starting salaries must be able to compete against other universities. 

“This is the reason why assistant professor salaries are increasing at a high rate,” Newman said in an email. “In some departments, the salary of a starting professor may be nearly as high as that of an associate professor who has taught at UT for many years.” 

Associate history professor Alberto Martinez said the problem does not only affect faculty but the University’s overall quality as well.

“It seems that some new hires are paid too much for a state university, which in turn leaves less funds for rewarding good work by current employees,” Martinez said in an email. “It pushes many good professors to seek jobs elsewhere.”

Martinez said, although the University gives more funding for research than it did 10 years ago, there are fewer raises for professors who have attained tenure.

“Maybe researchers now produce more, but the net effect [of using funds for research] is that achievement is hardly rewarded, which is discouraging,” Martinez said. 

David Ochsner, College of Liberal Arts spokesman, said in an email that there are no simple solutions to solving the inequities among faculty salary raises. 

“We are not only looking at professors in different stages of their careers,” Ochsner said. “We also need to consider variables between the disciplines themselves, for example, opportunities for sociology vs. classics faculty.” 

According to Martinez, job advertisements for professors do not list salaries, so universities may end up overpaying new faculty because salary negotiations do not begin until after candidates have been hired.

“If instead we cap and list specific salaries, then we’d save funds that can be used for raises to fix inequities,” Martinez said. “You can get a great professor for a $120,000 salary, but you can get one equally good for much less.”

Alberto Martinez explains his book, Science Secrets, at Book People on Wednesday evening. Martinez’s book questions the validity of many widely accepted scientific myths.

Photo Credit: Emilia Harris | Daily Texan Staff

There is no proof Galileo dropped objects from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to compare the rate of their falls, but popular science still promotes that myth and many others, said an associate history professor at a talk Wednesday.

Alberto Martinez read excerpts from his book “Science Secrets: The Truth about Darwin’s Finches, Einstein’s Wife, and Other Myths” to a crowd of 130 people at Bookpeople. He answered audience questions and signed copies of his book afterward.

Martinez said he became interested in investigating myths in science history after teaching them without being certain of their truth.

“There’s only so many times, if you’re curious, only so many times that you can repeat something without asking yourself, ‘Is this true?’” he said.

Martinez said myths build gradually over time from speculations and exaggerations.

“Many of these things come from fiction writers and historians using may have, must have, probably, would have, could have,” he said.

Martinez said any source could be inaccurate, but scientific historians should try harder to base their claims on primary sources rather than speculating or relying too much on secondhand information.

“Even though primary sources, such as scientists’ own early accounts can have mistakes or misrepresentations, it’s better to have account that is based on documentary sources than just made up,” he said.

These myths, which often feature dramatic struggles and portrayals of lonely martyrs fighting against powerful institutions, have continued for a reason, Martinez said.

“It’s not like the myths are just poison and toxic that we want to get rid of,” he said. “They’re successful narrative stories that we want to study so we can understand why these stories work.”

Many textbooks say the speed of light has been proved constant by experiments, Martinez said. However, experiments have shown the average round-trip speed of light to be constant, so the constancy of the speed of light is a generally-accepted convention.

“That kind of distinction, if we can make it more clearly in textbooks, would be wonderful,” he said. “Then students could more clearly understand, ‘Wait a minute, this one part is a convention, it could be much better if we could replace it with an experimental fact.’”

Bookpeople events director Julie Wernersbach said the store always looks forward to hosting University authors.

“They’re right around the corner from us, so it makes sense, and they always bring good crowds,” Wernersbach said.
Math senior David Kessler said he first met Martinez in a class he taught for the UTeach program and was inspired by his active approach to teaching.

“He always wants to know the truth and he always wants the truth to be taught,” Kessler said. “He really conveyed the importance of making sure that you’re not just accepting what someone else says.”