Last week, the College of William and Mary Board of Visitors held a meeting, during which one board member brought up the salary situation here at the College. The situation — no pay increases in the past four years — is being looked at more closely because the BOV finally had an epiphany: If the College cannot give adequate and competitive pay to faculty, they may choose to teach elsewhere with better pay.
This isn’t a problem to ignore. A professor, or any job-seeker, looks for the best offer; contributing factors may include the location, the school, but pay is definitely one of the most important factors. Other institutions are able to give professors higher pay, and in turn, those institutions benefit from the professors’s talent. Since we do not have the means or resources to support counter-offers when other institutions are vying for the faculty we want or the faculty we already have, the College is at a significant disadvantage.
This isn’t to say we are hurting too bad — yet. Despite our low funding, he College is viewed as very efficient not only for faculty but for everything else. We are doing a good job with little money, and it doesn’t look like the Commonwealth of Virginia will increase our budget anytime in the near future. We are still prestigious and dominate in most rankings, but how long will this last if we can’t afford to keep our professors ? Professors leave the College for myriad reasons, but receipt of a better offer from another school shouldn’t be one of them. We lost one professor to Tulane University last year, a good school but one with fewer credentials than the College. The College does not have the funding to compete, and right now, all we can do is sit and watch while our talent goes to lower ranked institutions.
The College’s ability to succeed with limited resources is good, but what about the next five years? The next ten? How are we going to stay on top without quality faculty?
Apparently, there have been initial talks about the possibilities of what we can do about this problem, as well as about other issues with our funding. Three options include the state increasing our budget, increasing the number of out-of-state students on campus, and increasing in-state tuition. A fourth option is to increase out-of-state tuition. As we have seen in the past, this method isn’t a viable option if we want to continue drawing in talent from out-of-state.
We would like to see state funding increase. We realize that Richmond may not realize the significance of their actions, and it may be cliche to say, but we are the future. Alumni who have walked through the Sir Christopher Wren Building have been presidential candidates, presidents, defense secretaries and even highly rated comedians. But given the unlikelihood of this, we urge the state to allow us to increase the number of out-of-state students. This would increase revenue, as well as bring attention to the College from outside of the region.
Another solution, of course, would be just to take the money from other schools or tax certain schools, say in Charlottesville, for the amount of seersucker clothing or boat shoes per capita. But even in the highly unlikely event that Richmond would consider that — which they may consider only before giving the College more money — solutions must be made to ensure that we stay where we are, professors and all.