Professors to receive state-mandated raise
By ALISON THOET
A two percent pay increase will be implemented for all faculty, staff and administration at the University of Mary Washington on Aug. 10 in accordance with the new Virginia budget.
The budget, passed by the Virginia General Assembly on Feb. 5, included a two percent raise for state employees, including faculty at the Commonwealth’s public higher education institutes.
According to Vice President for Administration and Finance Rick Pearce, all faculty, staff and administrative members received a four percent raise in 2008, and a three percent raise in August 2013. In addition, a three percent, one-time bonus was administered in December 2012.
“Whenever the state can bring in enough revenue to make the raises, they do,” said Pearce.
As for the two percent raise this year, Pearce said, “Frankly, it’s not very much. It’s the best the state can do.”
However, according to Jodie Hayob, professor of earth and environmental sciences and chair of the University Faculty Council, the state only funds about half (48 percent) of the two percent pay raise. UMW must come up with the other one percent, as do all other Virginia universities.
According to Pearce, UMW’s one percent comes from tuition and fees. However, UMW must pay all raises for auxiliary service employees, which includes Residence Life, certain student programs and non-academic services, entirely through room, board and other fees, as the state provides no help for these raises.
The one percent the state does provide will go to about 250 of the estimated 1,000 university employees. The two percent faculty raise is estimated to cost about $590,000, with the state covering approximately $290,000.
“It’s something almost nobody understands. The state gives us very little money. The state gives us less than 20 percent of our budget, the rest has to come from tuition and fees,” said Pearce.
According to Peace, an extra one percent was found through turnover savings when retired professors were replaced by new, lower salaried professors. Thus, full-time faculty will have a three percent raise.
However, rather than a three percent raise across the board, the administration proposed to the Board of Visitors that faculty receive a $2,000 flat pay raise, according to Hayob.
“I think it’s better for the moment because of the economic recession and because of how many people we have in [the College of Arts and Sciences] and [the College of Education] earning at the low end of salaries,” said Hayob.
Ken Machande, an associate business professor and associate dean of the College of Business, spoke on behalf of the CoB and said he supports the way the money may be distributed in this case.
“We recognize that there has been a lack of pay raises for quite some time,” said Machande. “There has been one here and one there, but generally a lack of consistency in pay raises, and that has diminished buying power for everyone really, but it disproportionately affects people who earn less.”
Though the current proposal for distributing a flat pay increase will benefit professors who are on the lower end of the salary scale, professors who make more money will not receive as much in terms of percentage benefits.
“If this pattern continues indefinitely, it leads to salary compression, but for this pay raise we support exactly how the administration is doing it,” said Machande. “We think the lower earning faculty have more of a need than the CoB, who are generally seen as the higher earning faculty.”
Salary compression is a result of a loss proportionality of salaries due to flat pay raises over time.
Sophomore business major Clark Billups believes the flat rate pay increase could be problematic as well.
“A standard percent raise based on salary accounts for rising living expenses. Professors who have been here longer are settled in and might have started a family; they need the extra income, not the new professors,” said Billups.
The Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession published by the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that full-time professors at UMW are paid on average $82,900, while associate professors receive an average of $66,300.
It is much more nuanced when looking at UMW professor salaries, according to Hayob, who said length of employment, market values and faculty rank are all factors. One must look at the different colleges within UMW to determine average salaries because the market price for each position can vary.
According to data received through a Freedom of Information Act request of professor salaries in 2015, the average salary for professors in the College of Business is about $100,800, the average salary for a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences is about $68,790 and the average for College of Education professors is about $66,380.
“We [the CoB] face the same issue when compared to national average that we aren’t being paid the national average, but when you take our salaries compared to the salaries at UMW, it appears we are being paid at a high rate comparatively,” said Machande.
The lack of a sufficient salary makes it difficult to hire new professors and staff members. The hiring freeze put in place by the University after budget cuts last year ended in September, though budget cuts still hinder hiring.
“The BOV decision to pursue AACSB [Advancing Quality Management Education Worldwide] accreditation resulted in the pursuit of faculty that had previously not been attracted to Mary Washington because of the lower salaries we had paid previously,” said Machande.
According to Pearce, there are about 25 position openings at any given time that need to be filled, whether for carpenters or professors. Yet it is hard to attract people to fill these positions with a non-competitive salary, which often results in employees taking up more duties than they need to.
“The lack of pay increases and the perception in some cases that as a group, university and state employees are not paid as well as folks feel they should be, and that has led to a lot of the tension,” said Pearce.
In fact, the low pay causes some professors to look elsewhere for positions, particularly professors not on a tenure track. For those who have tenure, it can be more difficult to search for higher paying positions.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” said Hayob. “It offers a level of job security and preserves academic freedom, but it also means you’re not very mobile in taking another position at another university.”
Billups is particularly concerned about adjunct professors, whom he feels are unfairly paid compared to full time professors.
According to Pearce, the state does not require a raise for part-time employees, and part-time and adjuncts are not tied to the raise in August.
“We generally adjust the adjuncts’ pay schedule every few years, and it is not necessarily tied to other full-time professor raises,” said Pearce.
Salaries for these employees were adjusted in 2013, but salary increases vary due to certain degrees and other aspects, so there is not an across the board pay increase, according to Pearce.
“We adjust their rates as the market and cost of living demand,” he said.
“No one here in CAS or CoE is making a great salary for the region and the work that we do,” said Hayob. “My concern is a fair living wage for this region to help faculty that are really struggling to pay basic living expenses.”
The BOV is meeting in April and will discuss the $2,000 flat rate pay increase for professors. These details must be determined before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
“I think the real issue is they’re [faculty] not paid what they’re worth,” said Pearce. “The faculty are a unique group of employees and because they really are the ones that carry out the mission of the university, we feel like we need to make sure they get paid sufficiently.”
Billups agreed, saying, “Yes, we’re trying to run a business here, but we should take care of our professors. With the recent cuts on funding, where should we be funneling the money we have? For things that look good to prospective students, or for the professors that make this school unique?”