Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Faculty Salary Policy

In a previous message, I described the work of a committee to re-evaluate Executive Order #64, which requires that all meritorious faculty receive an annual 2% pay increase. Attached to this message are two drafts of a new Executive Order. The first was issued by the President on February 18th for review and comment. The second is a revised draft, suggested by the joint committee to re-evaluate EO #64, after the first draft was reviewed by the Senate Executive Committee in its February 23rd meeting.

Review of the new Executive Order is scheduled for the Senate meeting this Thursday. We expect the Senate will also be asked to vote on a Class C Resolution stating some principles and expressing support for a temporary suspension of policies requiring a general merit pay increase. Discussion so far has revealed principled differences among members of the faculty on the wisdom of suspending EO #64 as well as on what stance the Senate should take. It is more important than ever that you discuss these issues with your colleagues so you can effectively represent the values and interests of faculty. Let me express three hopes.

First, please think through the issues, taking advantage of available sources of information. These are the rough dimensions of the problem we face:

--The Governor's proposed budget calls for a cut of $60 million annually in our core educational budget;

--Recent budget projections have led to proposals to cut our budget by half again as much;

--Because approximately 75% of our core educational budget consists of personnel, we may lose between 400 and 800 instructional and administrative staff;

--Schools and colleges are being asked to model cuts ranging from 8 % to 12%, with the higher range sounding more realistic based on recent estimates. Administrative units are being asked to model higher percentage cuts.

--The cost of a 2% general merit increase is roughly $6 million.

Putting these numbers together may help faculty judge the merits of the proposals before us. More detailed sources of information include the website maintained by the Vice Provost for Planning and Budgeting, presenting summaries of the proposed cuts and their rationale at each school and college, at http://www.washington.edu/admin/pb/home/uw-bgt-process.htm; the blogs of the Senate chair and especially the faculty's legislative representative, on the Senate website http://www.washington.edu/faculty/facsen/ ; and the website of the Office of State Relations, providing updates on discussions in Olympia, at http://depts.washington.edu/staterel/wordpress/ .

Second, please bear in mind that we have a right and responsibility to participate in discussions of budget priorities in our departments and schools as well as at the Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting. As you may infer from the above estimates, decisions about priorities at the level of schools and colleges are far more consequential in financial and program terms than the general pay increase; it is the status of shared governance that makes the pay increase discussion especially significant.

Finally, please think about these matters in broader terms than the relationship between the faculty and the administration. I have views that differ from those of administrators on some questions, and many of us have differences among ourselves; but other key participants in this conversation include the legislature, the Board of Regents, the citizenry, and our own colleagues and staff who are vulnerable to losing their jobs. For these reasons, we have a duty to proceed wisely and fairly within the constraints of the faculty code and state law.

David Lovell, Ph.D.
Chair, Faculty Senate