Faculty Assembly discusses salary transparency

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October 28, 2011

12:18 AM

The College of William and Mary Faculty Assembly debated controversial questions of salary increase and retirement transparency at its October meeting Wednesday.

Starting Nov. 25, a modest salary increase will go into effect, with the potential to become more substantial over the next two years, according to the provost’s report. Even so, the College faculty is frustrated about the salary situation, which causes a multitude of problems. The primary financial concern for the College is the need to decrease costs and increase revenues.

“That’s what’s at the root of this [situation],” physics professor Todd Averett said. Averett is the assembly’s parliamentarian.

Currently, a retiring professor may choose to receive an 8 percent and 7 percent raise in his or her penultimate and final years of employment, respectively. The matter of transparency becomes relevant when less-accomplished academics get the best deals for retirement, an aspect that is inevitable with a system like the College’s.

“The current program should be phased out,” Debbie Bebout, chemistry professor and chair of the assembly’s Faculty Affairs Committee, said.

“We need a retirement incentive in place to encourage people to retire,” English professor Suzanne Raitt, the assembly’s secretary, said.

But when there is no money for increases in salary, where does this funding for retirement come from?
The answer is straightforward: hiring new faculty decreases expenses, since they are not as experienced and therefore do not earn as much as money as their predecessors. This is not entirely efficient in covering costs though, which is why some feel a new plan is necessary.

“Everyone should know what they are entitled to,” physics professor Gina Hoatson said, in defense of transparency.

After much discussion, the motion to endorse the four specific recommendations for the retirement program achieved the simple majority necessary to pass.

Additionally, various other motions were put to vote. Among them was the proposal to make the chair of the Committee on Planning and Resources (COPAR) also the chair of the Faculty University Priorities committee (FUPC), which passed unanimously.

Looking towards the future, the assembly chose to defer addressing the idea of “creative adaptation and productivity” until its next meeting.

“The assembly is widely representative of the College of Arts and Sciences, in addition to the four professional schools,” Provost Michael Halleran said.

According to Halleran, the purpose of the assembly is to ensure that it is the “fundamental prerogative of the faculty” to decide major issues.

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