Necessity is the mother of invention, the old adage advises. This week, professors young and old announced that the limited budget situation has led them to an agreement to change an old policy that affected the way raises were doled out. In the coming years, the fruits of their efforts — a revised and improved raise policy — will leave us in a better position to retain young professors.
Many years ago, the school implemented a narrow policy to encourage older professors to retire early by raising their salaries about 10 percent for each of their final two years of teaching, regardless of merit. Even with the raise, this was a good deal for the College of William and Mary, as retiring professors tended to be paid much more than their younger counterparts. In time, however, the narrow policy came to apply to all professors, regardless of whether or not they were actually retiring early.
The Faculty Assembly has recently come out against this policy, and it is now likely that it will be removed. Too much has changed since the initial implementation of these raises, and they now no longer serve their intended purposes. Furthermore, because all of this money comes from the same pool and budgets have tightened, these raises now stand in the way of rewarding the performance of younger professors. The raises will be phased out over the next decade so that no one who has been relying on them for retirement will be left in the cold.
While an adverse budgetary environment does bring pain, it also presents plenty of opportunity. Any institution as large and as old as the College will have its fair share of inefficiencies. Tinkering with the details of salaries and retirement bonuses may be sensitive, but doing so can lead the school in a positive direction. We should all keep our eyes out for such opportunities.