Sunday, November 8, 2009

Faculty Salary Policy: Facts, History, and Current Status

AUTHOR: Bruce Balick, Chair, Faculty Senate
PUBLICATION DATE: 12 November 2009 (with subsequent addenda)

Faculty Senate Presentation

Quick Facts(read this first)

  1. Faculty salary policy is described in Code Chapter 24. Code sections 24-70-B-1 and 24-71-B-1 specify that there shall be annual merit raises, but no amount is specified.
  2. The 2% annual merit raise is part of a Presidential Executive Order 64 ("EO64", McCormick, c. 1999; Fac Code 24-57 footnote 2) along with a caution indicating that the policy might be re-evaluated if there are no new funds from the legislature.
  3. Executive Order 29 ("EO29", Emmert, c. 2009 Fac Code 24-57 footnote 3) temporarily suspended the 2% or any other merit raise for this biennium. The regents formally endorsed EO29 (Code 24-57 footnote 4).
  4. EO29 was issued last year after consultation with a joint faculty-administration committee to re-evaluate EO64,a review by the Senate Executive Committee and the Faculty Senate, and a formal response by Faculty Senate Chair Lovell and Secretary of the Faculty Killien (who in turn received extensive advice from senior members of the faculty).
  5. The Senate, the President, and the Regents intend to return to regular merit raises as soon as the budget will support it. This is on record (see esp. Code 24-57). At no time has the leadership of the Faculty Senate, or the Regents, or the President indicated that they wish or intend to permanently change the sense of the extant faculty salary policy.
  6. EO29 prohibits any central funding for recruitment and retention while merit raises have been suspended for 2009-11. However, colleges may use their own funds for R&R after they've absorbed their negotiated budget cuts. The Senate is closely monitoring statistics of all hiring and retention agreements to insure that no abuses of the spirit of our agreements (to honor the spirit of faculty salary policy under perverse circumstances) occur each quarter of the biennium.
  • NB: Executive orders are found as footnotes within relevant sections of the Code despite their overriding authority.

Salary Policy: The Faculty Senate Position

Vigorous debate is underway within the academy about how best to preserve the most critical elements of our mission during these times of sudden cuts in the revenue for our core budget. Strong and sensible advocates within this debate argue to preserve: the orderly growth of faculty salaries; faculty lines; TA and lecturer positions; student-instructor ratios; and faculty-mentored research and scholarship opportunities for students. The roles of web-based instruction and expanding professional degree programs, etc. also enter this discussion as external pressures for access and affordability mix with the aspirations of preserving instructional quality. In this, the Regents and the President must balance the tensions from both inside and outside the Academy.

Above all, the leadership of the Faculty Senate is committed to the preservation of extant faculty salary policy, as embodied in the Code (chapter 24) since this represents the authoritative will of the faculty enacted by its duly elected representatives. This policy is a very principled compact with a lengthy history that was drawn up outside the present stresses of the budget. It expresses the vital need to reward loyalty and continued accomplishment by all of UW's faculty over opportunistic salary growth.*

This view of preserving extant salary policy is aligned with that of the position expressed by the President in EO29: "Although the suspension of merit salary increases is a temporary imperative, it remains equally evident that regular merit increases, promotions, hiring, retention, and competitive compensation of faculty are critical to the long-term success of the University. University leadership remains steadfastly committed to the fundamental elements of Executive Order No. 64, and its principles and priorities are reaffirmed." (31 March 2009. NB: This position was endorsed by the resolution of the regents two weeks later).

* For those of our colleagues who may not grasp the full complexities of the Code, only the full Senate in collaboration with the Administration and the Regents can alter this position. And the only mechanism for any changes in policy is Class-A legislation that must reflect the consensus that emerges from multiple open discussions during its consideration. All provisions of the Code have the force of state law. Only the Governor or his/her delegates (the UW Regents and the President) can supersede it through their Executive Orders.

What's the Challenge for the Faculty Senate?

The immediate challenge is to preserving the heart of extant faculty salary policy despite the funding tempest in which we now find ourselves. In other words, maintaining the compact by which the faculty shar in the governance of the institution is a primary objective of the efforts of the Senate leadership this year, just as it was last year.

History: It Matters!

Current salary policy at UW has its roots in a long, hard row a decade ago. In brief, prior to 1999 the faculty were upset that disproportionate funding was being used for recruitment and retention. This ad hoc, opportunistic salary policy left most faculty without fair annual raises and created unbalanced salary scales within departments and colleges. Faculty Senate leadership working closely with Provost Huntsman reached agreement on the present salary policy which is built on a principle of steady salary progression for all meritorious faculty.

The final result of the tempestuous ensuing discussions is summarized in EO64 (underlining is mine):
"Consistent with the stated objectives, the first priority shall be to support regular merit and promotion awards to current faculty. Further, each biennium the minimum salaries by rank will be reviewed and, if adjusted, support will be provided to ensure those minimum levels are achieved. Other funds, as available, may be allotted among the following faculty salary + adjustments:

  • Additional merit to all faculty;
  • Differential distributions by unit to correct salary gaps created by changing disciplinary markets or assessments of unit quality;
  • Recruitment and retention;
  • System wide adjustments to raise the salaries of all meritorious faculty."

(Sections 24.70 and 24.71 in the Code describe this salary policy in further detail as well as the procedures for their annual award.)

EO64 implements the spirit of the principle of steady salary progression by mandating that 2% raises are to be issued annually. There is an important caveat: "Without the infusion of new money from the Legislature into the salary base, career advancement can only be rewarded at the expense of the size of the University faculty. Without the influx of new money or in the event of decreased State support, a reevaluation of this Faculty Salary Policy may prove necessary." However, the reevaluation mechanism is not described. Nor is there any prescription about how to provide the funding or make programmatic sacrifices necessary to support annual 2% salary progression during sharp declines in UW's base budget.

All went fairly well for the first few years after the new policy was enacted since State tax revenues grew. There was one large bump along the road. The Administration attempted to evade the full 2% raises in 2002. Duane Storti then sued UW for retroactive raises. The judge sided with Storti over the UW's inadequate efforts consult adequately with the facult before suspending the 2% annual merit raisey, as specified in the Code. Subsequently the faculty has received regular merit raises as large as 4%.

The Big Budgetary Bang: Last Year Happened.

Cuts to the UW base budget by the last Legislature were devastating to UW's budget. Increased tuition only partially compensates. This situation was not anticipated or accommodated when EO64 was written. In addition to the salary freeze about 1000 positions have been eliminated and many instructional services have been curtailed.

The order by the Governor freezing all state salaries certainly halted salary progression in the short term. EO29 formally suspended all merit-related salary increases for the 2009-11 biennium, as per the legislative and gubernatorial mandates. In the spirit of the Code, the Provost, President, and Regents prohibited the formation of a central pool of funds for faculty retention and recruitment while annual 2% raises could not be supported. For the 2009-11 biennium new faculty hiring is allowed only to meet our most essential obligations; however, deans are allowed to allocate funds within their own college for faculty hiring and retention after they have met negotiated budget reductions. Promotion raises continue as always. The Provost agrees to present quarterly reports to the Senate Committee on Planning & Budgeting (SCPB) on the execution of this policy. Finally, EO29 states: "Regular merit increases will resume first priority for allocation of salary funds after this suspension expires." This is the metric for judging events to come.

How do we assure UW's role into the future?

The best offense in any fiscal tempests is a stalwart defense of our key assets. That's us. The Senate stands behind the broader view that our present faculty salary policy is the best long-term investment in UW’s future as a world-leading university.

The Senate Committee on Planning & Budgeting (SCPB) ( is the primary point of communication between faculty and administrators in any process of resource entrenchment. Please contact the Chair of SCPB, David Lovell, or any of its members with advice and concerns. Or contact me ( ).

Addendum 11/24/09: Where do we go from here?

There's no clear answer yet. At this time we are exploring the possibility of interpreting the code to make it more applicable to the world in which we find ourselves without sacrificing the heart of the intent of the code. For example, we might be able to define a set of exigent circumstances when some sort of a reasonable and clearly defined consultative process for providing faculty raises is developed. However, the legal interpretation of code provisions is an art, and a delicate one at that. Look here for updates as our options become clearer.

Addendum 11/24/09: Notes on Remarks to the Regents 11/19/09 (by Vice Chair JW Harrington):

a) In 1999, the Regents supported a landmark set of rules that form the basis for faculty assessment and advancement. The current salary policy was a key component in a hard-negotiated system of responsibilities and rewards, which included annual post-tenure reviews and peer consultation regarding counter-offers. Regent Gates attended the Senate mtg at which this agreement was discussed and referred favorably to the faculty as a whole. We worked hard, and well, together.

b) The U is professionally managed. I asked the Regents to look at their own professional experiences to realize that managing human resources through the implementation of career ladders and salary progression are a key to professional management of any organization. Of course the University can do this with faculty as we do with classified staff and moderately well with professional staff, and recognize salary progression as a fundamental expense, like our utility bills.

c) We can’t break this success. The alternative to our present policy, since we don’t have step increases or cost-of-living adjustments, would be for we faculty to sit at the same salary level for years, unless we individually pursue the divisive and wasteful practice of seeking external offers for moving away. We can certainly do better than this.

d) Finally, we can do this, because a major portion of a basic salary progression can be paid internally by the replacement of retiring and departing faculty by junior faculty – as long as retiring and departing faculty in fact have higher salaries than junior faculty – in other words, as long as there is some career progression.

Then I addressed the short run – the remainder of the current biennium –

i) the Senate leadership is working to interpret Sec. 24-70 [our salary policy] in a way that’s consistent with Executive Order 29 [which called for no salary increases this biennium], and in light of the February 2010 expiration of the statewide ban on salary increases.

ii) According to the Faculty Code, the Senate Executive Committee provides official interpretation of the Code. On Monday, the chair of the Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting asked the Executive Committee to request the Advisory Committee on Faculty Code and Regulation to advise the SEC – we hope to develop and issue the flexible interpretation that is needed.