Over the weekend, the College of William and Mary Board of Visitor’s met to discuss the most pressing issues facing the College. Almost all discussions revolved around one topic: money and how to get more of it. In order to maintain its position as a public ivy, the College needs money to pay professors — arguably the school’s most important resource.
Kate Conley, the new dean of arts and sciences, described two professors who had been faced with a choice — continue teaching at the College with a retention package that would increase their salaries by 25 percent or move to a different school where their salaries would be $50,000 more than those at the College, even with the retention package. While both professors chose to remain at the College, many faculty have decided otherwise. Over the past year, the College has received 11 resignations from faculty members.
We could easily ask the College administration to increase faculty salaries; however, we are all aware that the College’s budget is already strained. There is no room for reallocation of funding at this time.
The College is not alone in this predicament: The University of Virginia is focusing on faculty salaries and faculty replacement, as well. And while the College and U.Va. are in slightly different places financially — U.Va. has a more sizeable endowment than the College — both schools realize the importance of a strong faculty. Faculty salaries are long-term expenses that schools must be able to sustain.
If public ivies are to survive, there must be a change. These schools are largely supported by state funding; however, cuts to state budgets in recent years have resulted in cuts to college and university funding. In order to have leading public colleges, states must be willing to fund them.
The College is left with a choice — to treat out-of-state students as “bags of money with feet” or to lose its prestigious standing. The only other option for the College is to embrace its standing as a public ivy and petition the state government for more funding.
As this year’s November elections approach, much is being said about the presidential and senate races, but what about the races within the state? Students have a responsibility to become informed about the state delegates who yield so much power over the College. We encourage students not only to vote, but also to ask the men and women running for the Virginia General Assembly to visit campus and discuss where they stand on these issues. Moreover, students should write their current delegates to express their concerns.
At the end of the day, the decisions these state politicians make determine the fate of the College. The College’s academic standing affects everyone involved with the school. In order for a degree from the College to remain valuable, the College must continue to boast an outstanding faculty.
The College needs money to survive. We believe that the best way to fund the College is to embrace the school’s standing as a public ivy and ask that politicians in Richmond give the school what it needs to thrive.
Editor’s Note: Jill Found recused herself from the staff editorial.