By FRANCES WOMBLE
This year marks the first out of four years that Mary Washington faculty will receive a raise; however, not everyone is pleased with the result. With no funding available from the state, only $81,000 was made available for faculty salary adjustments.
Provost Jay Harper said in an email sent to the faculty that the administration asked him to adjust faculty salaries in all three undergraduate colleges at the Fredericksburg campus.
“I had two problems,” Harper said. “First, there was nothing to base current salaries on, and there was no money.”
To solve the first problem, Harper said UMW hired a consultant. A market analysis was done to determine how UMW faculty salaries measure up to other institutions.
According to Harper, the consultant determined that faculty within the College of Business are paid less than peers at other schools. The consultant also determined, Harper said, that compression and inversion was most acute in the College of Arts and Sciences.
This means that some newer faculty members were receiving more than their peers who have worked here longer.
Richard Finkelstein, dean of arts and sciences, addressed this compression and inversion in an email sent out to all full-time teaching staff in the college on Nov. 2.
“We have severe compression, and some inversion problems, primarily associated with faculty members in their first 10-12 years at the university,” he said.
Harper said that although there was no money allotted for salary adjustments from the state, President Rick Hurley wanted to address adjustment need. Harper spoke with the three deans of the university and asked each of them to develop a strategy for salary adjustments within their college.
“The salary issues in each college are different, and the Deans are in the best position to determine how to proceed given the unique disparities within each college,” Harper said in an email sent to all teaching faculty. “Providing a sum for each Dean to work with also ensured that some faculty in each college would benefit from these adjustments.”
“I initially requested nearly $90,000 for our division,” Finkelstein said. “That amount represents the cost of setting up a system in which people would gain a modest $500 for each year of service, assuming merit. It would also maintain the increment that comes with tenure and promotion to associate professor.”
However, the University was not able to meet this request.
“We did not have enough money to address all needs,” Harper said.
According to Harper, about $39,000 was made available for the College of Arts and Sciences. He also said the College of Business received slightly less, and the College of Education received about one-third of what the other two colleges received.
“It must be noted that, while the consultant’s study argued that salaries within our area were approximately at national norms, President Hurley responded to concerns that I and others voiced about the importance of assigning money to alleviate compression problems in Arts and Sciences,” Finkelstein said in his email to faculty.
Lynn Richardson, dean of business, feels the administration tried to please faculty given the monetary restraints.
“I do think the adjustments are fair,” she said. “With limited dollars to distribute, everyone involved made the best decisions they could. I certainly hope the College of Business faculty who received adjustments are pleased with their increase. Each of my colleagues in the College of Business works very hard and I wish there had been enough money for each person to get an adjustment.”
Mary Gendernalik-Cooper, dean of education, said she was not anticipating salary adjustments this year because no money was given from the state.
“I had not anticipated salary adjustments,” she said. “We are all fortunate that the president identified a very limited fund that has allowed us to begin to address faculty compensation issues. The university undertook a very complex and thorough study of salaries, and with extensive input within the UMW community, clarified what was fair and possible within very tight financial constraints.”
Although frustrated with remaining salary concerns, Finkelstein agrees with the other two deans.
“I believe that the adjustments were as fair as they could be within the financial constraints with which we were working,” he said. “The faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences work very, very hard. We are grateful for any financial rewards received, but the raises only provide a small part of what is necessary to recognize and support the work that they do.”
Harper said he is aware how difficult it is to make ends meet, especially given the proximity to Northern Virginia and the cost of living. He said the adjustments were an attempt to address need, but he knows it is not an ideal solution.
“We want faculty to know they are valued,” Harper stressed. “We want to address need.”
Harper hopes the governor will address need and allot money for faculty adjustments in the future.
“I am happy that President Hurley put aside money to make salary adjustments. The actual adjustments that were made in CAS (or any of the other colleges) are private information so I don’t know any specifics and therefore can’t comment on that,” said Dave Kolar, associate professor of psychology.
The Bullet attempted to reach several other professors for comment on the salary adjustments, but all declined to comment.