Paying the price of quality: Raise for professors should be a priority

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March 14, 2011

11:12 PM

As students departed for spring break on March 4, College of William and Mary President Taylor Reveley sent out an e-mail discussing the actions of the Virginia General Assembly and how these actions will affect the College. Since most students were busy shoving clothes into suitcases and hitting the road, they may have missed some very important information concerning funding at the College. The first item on Reveley’s agenda was particularly interesting, especially in light of the recent Living Wage Campain, because it discussed potential changes to the take-home pay of faculty members at the College.

The GA has proposed that state employees must now begin to pay into their state retirement plan. Basically, 5 percent of the salaries of all state employees will go into their retirement funds if these employees are enrolled in the Virginia Retirement System. This cut is being proposed as an effort to save money for the state in light of the struggling economy. It will affect all state employees using the VRS plan, including roughly half of the professors at the College. This cut is particularly painful when one considers that the College’s professors have not seen a raise in the past three years.

Reveley has discussed the possibility of pay raises for professors at the College in order to help ease the blow to their salaries. Professors are key to the College’s success because of their ability to draw applicants to and keep students at the College. In order to remain a prominent institution of higher education, the College must recruit and maintain a prestigious faculty. Using any available funds to increase faculty pay, or at least to offset the cuts being made through the VRS, is a wise move for the College.

The LWC honorably seeks to give campus workers a raise. While I think this is a noble cause, I believe that any spare funds the College has in these difficult economic times should be given to the professors who are key to ensuring students are prepared for their future jobs. Most college applicants look at academic and faculty rankings when choosing their schools, and ultimately choose a college for its academics, not for the little features that are added bonuses; I certainly did not decide to attend the College for the food served at the dining halls.

I support Reveley proposing pay raises for at least some of the College’s employees to help offset budget cuts. However, I would like to see hard plans granting professors this raise. The professors are one of the most attractive features at the College, and we must continue to recruit top professors if the College is to maintain its position as a leader in higher education.

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