GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MINUTES OF THE FACULTY SENATE
SEPTEMBER 13, 2006
Senators Present: Ernest Barreto, Kristine Bell, Jim Bennett, Alok Berry, Deborah Boehm-Davis, Phillip Buchanan, Frieda Butler, Julie Christensen, Rick Coffinberger, Jose Cortina, Warren Decker, Allison Frendak, Jeffrey Gorrell, Karen Hallows, Susan Hirsch, Mark Houck, Dan Joyce, Matthew Karush, Jim Kozlowski, David Kuebrich, Jane McDonald, Linda Monson, Jean Moore, Ami Motro, Patricia Moyer-Packenham, Paula Petrik, Peter Pober, Larry Rockwood, Jim Sanford, Joe Scimecca, Suzanne Slayden, Ray Sommer, Peter Stearns, Cliff Sutton, Ellen Todd, Susan Trencher, Iosif Vaisman,. Phil Wiest, James Willett, Jennie Wu, Stanley Zoltek.
Senators Absent: Russ Brayley, Lorraine Brown, Jack Censer, Vikas Chandhoke, Sara Cobb, Lloyd Cohen, Lloyd Griffiths, Kingsley Haynes, Menas Kafatos, Richard Klimoski, Alan Merten, Daniel Polsby, Jane Razeghi, William Reeder, Ilya Somin, June Tangney, Shirley Travis, Mary Williams, John Zenelis.
Visitors Present: Kevin Avruch, ICAR; Cynthia Beck, Molecular and Microbiology; Jessica Bowdoin, University Libraries – Librarian’s Council; Pat Donini – Human Resources; Dolores Gomez-Moran, Ombudsman – Student Academic Affairs; Jerry Hanweck – School of Management; Robin Herron – Office of Communications – Mason Gazette; Mark Jacobs, Sociology; Susan Jones, University Registrar; Donna Kidd, Budget/IRR; Jim Metcalf, College of Health and Human Services; George Oberle, Librarians’ Council; Della Patrick, Staff Senate; Janay Phillips, Broadside Staff Writer; Ilse Riddick, Human Resources; Linda Schwartzstein, Provost’s Office.
I. Call to Order: Suzanne Slayden, Chair, called the meeting to order at 3:04 p.m. Faculty Senators were reminded to sign in and visitors to register if they wish their names to appear in the minutes. Only two items (see New Business below) are on agenda to be considered at this special meeting. Detailed minutes of the first Special Meeting of the Faculty Task Force to Consider Salary Issues (April 19, 2006) were recently distributed. Hard copies of the Task Force’s report for today’s meeting are available at the back of the room.
II. New Business
· Continuing Members: Rick Coffinberger (SOM), Michael Ferri (SOM), Rich Rubenstein (ICAR), and
June Tangney (LAHS)
· Nominees: Dave Kuebrich (LAHS), Jose Cortina (LAHS)
No other nominations were made from the floor; the ballot passed unanimously by voice vote.
The chair thanked the members of the Task Force for all the work they have done this summer and during the semester. A series of motions will be formulated for consideration at our October meeting; faculty input and ideas are encouraged. Ground rules: All speakers will be recognized once before twice. A two-minute limit will be enforced. Speakers will not be identified in the minutes. Index cards will be distributed by the Sergeant-at-Arms for anonymous questions to be relayed to the Task Force. Candid remarks are encouraged; to be directed at policies, not persons. Feedback from all opinions is encouraged.
Rick Coffinberger, Chair of the Task Force, first wishes to thank his colleagues on the Task Force for their participation in this very time-consuming enterprise; especially during the summer. The Task Force was charged not only to study relevant salary issues and report back, but also to develop recommendations for new policies and changes in existing policies. Seven tentative recommendations were developed for discussion today. The Task Force would like not only your reactions to these recommendations but also suggestions for additional recommendations. The Task Force will prepare a final set of recommendations in the form of motions for consideration at the next Faculty Senate meeting (October 18, 2006). As reiterated in the report, we held three meetings with representatives from the central administration, primarily the Provost and members of his staff, and the Senior Vice President Maurice Scherrens and his staff.
The following recommendations are intended as a means to elicit constructive dialogue with the Senate, the larger faculty, and the central administration. Following agreement on new policy goals, the details of their implementation can be worked out. We recommend that the university administration:
(1) Publicly announce that improving instructional faculty salaries in relationship to relevant benchmarks (e.g., the salaries paid by our peer universities), taking into account the cost of living in Northern Virginia, is the university’s highest budget priority over the next five years. The President and Rector of the university should be invited to speak to the faculty this term to publicize this goal and to present their ideas on how it may be achieved.
(2) In concert with faculty representatives and representatives of other key groups (e.g., the Board of Visitors, Alumni/ae, and local supporters), develop and implement a detailed plan for lobbying the Virginia General Assembly to gain their support for this goal. The university might offer to fund part of the salary shortfall in partnership with the Commonwealth as it has done in the case of funding buildings and other capital improvements.
(3) Create and distribute annually reports on the university’s progress toward reaching this goal, with announcement of off-cycle salary adjustments that have been made, if any.
(4) Limit the annual salary increments for top administrators (who are at or about the 80th percentile with respect to their peers in comparable institutions) until the goal of raising instructional faculty salaries to approximately the same level, relative to their peers, has been achieved. We recommend that until parity has been obtained, salary increases for top administrators be held to a level of approximately one percent annually.
(5) Fully disclose to the faculty the terms of the existing contracts of upper-level administrators. If the terms of specific contracts are protected by privacy constraints, general data should be provided. There should be full disclosure, e.g., of the general agreements regarding (a) salary adjustments and released time upon return of administrators to the instructional faculty; (b) severance and retirement agreements; (c) other benefits; and (d) the sources and amounts of all university-related income received by central administrators in addition to their reported salaries from the state.
(6) Until the university can devote significantly more revenue to increase the salaries of all instructional and lower-level administrative faculty, as well as classified employees, it needs to modify its rhetoric and to work with the Senate to develop more equitable salary policies. Loosely used rhetoric that speaks of Mason as the “University of the 21st Century,” a “Harvard on the Potomac,” or a “world-class university in ten years” is not only unrealistic but dangerous if it affects policy making. The danger that stems from this disjunction between aspiration and rhetoric, on the one hand, and obvious economic limitations, on the other, is that the administration can be competitive in recruiting and paying some faculty members only by taking deserved monies from other faculty and employees. This has happened repeatedly over the years. It ought to stop now.
(7) Finally, we recommend that the Faculty Task Force on Salary Issues be authorized to continue its work during academic year 2006-2007.
In reviewing these tentative recommendations, the Task Force Chair offered the following conclusions:
(1) The improvement of instructional faculty salaries should be the university’s highest priority over the next five years. Our ability to retain colleagues we wish to retain and to hire new colleagues impeded by our current salary levels. This situation also impedes the reputation of Mason, which disappointingly remained a “third tier” school in US News and World Report’s recently distributed rankings of colleges and universities.
(2) Senior administrators are relatively well paid; the initial April report compares some high level salaries to national benchmarks; a situation which is not only unfair, but demoralizing to faculty. We propose a multiyear effort to raise instructional faculty salaries as the university’s #1 budget priority.
(3) Some encouraging progress has been made this summer. The central administration has committed funds in addition to the state’s mandate 4.1% salary increase by an additional 1.4%, to reach a total 5.5% salary increase. The central administration has also devoted additional funding to raise salaries of faculty at the lowest levels, to set a floor (minimum). They will also work with interested faculty in computing COLA.
(4) The Provost has committed to scrutinizing future administrative salary increases, with recognition that some are not under his control.
Question/Comment #1: Is this report part of a larger equity study to examine the salaries of male and female faculty/administrators? If not, this type of examination is needed.
Task Force response: No, but the Task Force will discuss the merits of this type of study for our task. There is a university committee on salary equity which periodically produces a report. If gender based differences exist, we hope the committee will make suggestions for appropriate actions as well.
Question/Comment #2: Did the Task Force consider, as a way to ease some faculty salary problems, to move towards equity with other universities in the state by non-monetary compensation, such as leave time?
Task Force response: We have not discussed this but may well do so, along with consideration of the level of benefits needed to attract and retain the best instructional faculty.
Question/Comment #3: How is the 5.5% salary increase for this year to be allocated, given new floors set? From where does the money come, where are cuts made?
Task Force response: The Task Force can’t answer that question. However we assume that the funds come from both tuition and general E&G funds.
The Provost confirmed that this is new money, not assigned elsewhere. Newly assigned initial salary for those minima are simply NEW minima; a relatively new portion of the salary pool. Of the 5.5% increase, .5% is held back to handle special cases at the Provost’s discretion. Deans and Directors normally hold back an additional .5%.
Question/Comment #4: I have heard a recent rumor that several upper level administrators received increases in July. Are they the same high level administrators as last year?
Task Force response: We can confirm that at least two high level administrators were given increments off cycle; and that one of these administrators received a very large salary increment last December. Members of the Task Force are quite concerned about this and will investigate the situation fully.
Question/Comment #5: As the BOV now talking about Mason becoming a “great university,” a great faculty is a critical element for a great university. History and Art History could not fill faculty slots, similar problems found in Physics, Modern and Classical Languages, and Economics. We need to communicate our concerns about salaries directly to the BOV’s Faculty and Academic Standards Committee. I also object to the skimming of funds from the 5.5% raise pool announced by the University. Most instructional faculty will be lucky to get a fraction of that and the vast majority will not see 5.5% raises. Mason’s instructional faculty are falling further and further behind the cost-of-living in Northern Virginia.
Task Force response: To consider this issue further. Last year the university’s administration approached the General Assembly for funding for a COLA increase using a very nice brochure. By their data, the Mason community (not just faculty) would need at least a 33% increase in salary levels to compensate for the high cost-of-living in Northern Virginia; It is likely that COLA differential has increased. That is the reason that salary increases for instructional faculty are the Task Force’s highest priority.
Question/Comment #6: I am saddened that to do well economically, you have to join the central administration. Scholarship does not get you very far. 12 month administrative contracts are paid well. As chair of the nominations committee, finds it very difficult to get folks to serve; they are not rewarded by departments or the administration; see service as taking away from things that pay, such as research. How does this affect the future of the institution?
Question/Comment #7: Where does the funding for instructional and administrative faculty salaries and salary increments come from?
Task Force response: The General Assembly establishes a salary pool in the form of a percentage increment; the university is free to increase the size of the pool. In the last few years, the General Assembly established pools but only provided one-half the funds to support it; the university had to fund the remaining half of the pool. Mason appears to also have the flexibility to move funds from one pool of salary increment funds to another. Thus, monies could be moved from those allocated for administrative faculty raises to instructional faculty raises and visa versa. This offers some interesting funding options for the future to assist us in attracting and retaining good instructional faculty.
Question/Comment #8: Are there mandated levels for promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor; from Associate to Full Professor?
Task Force response: This issue is not addressed in the Faculty Handbook. Over the years we have heard comments by colleagues that whatever differential may be, it is far too small to financially motivate them, to seek promotion to full professor.
The Provost added that he did not know if this policy was in writing, but faculty who are promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor receive a raise of $1,500; the raise is $2,000 if the faculty member is also granted tenure.
Question/Comment #9: How many dollars are at stake here? What is annual budget for instructional faculty salaries and what do increases cost?
Task Force response: Roughly speaking, an increase of 1% for all instructional faculty would cost about $1 million. Thus it would cost about $33 million to fund a full COLA for Mason’s instructional faculty. While this is a large figure, it is important to remember that Mason’s total annual budget now exceeds $650 million. A budget of this size should provide some opportunities for reallocating funds to high priority budget initiatives such as the COLA. One should also keep in mind that every one percent increase in tuition generates about $1 million which could be used to improve our salaries so we can in fact develop a great faculty.
Question/Comment #10: What are the new floors for faculty salaries?
Provost response: Instructor - $35,000; Assistant Professor (Term) - $40, 000; Assistant Professor (Tenure Track) - $51,000; Associate Professor (Term) - $50,000; Associate Professor (Tenure Track) - $60,000; Full Professor (Term) - $60,000; Full Professor (Tenure-Track) $70,000.
Question/Comment #11: How much was Mason’s budget increased this year by the General Assembly?
Provost responds: We had a good budget year and received $42 million new funding from the General Assembly; 38% of which we assigned to salary increases for the faculty (instructional and administrative/professional) and staff.
Question/Comment #12: Given that senior administrators’ salaries are relatively so much higher than those of the instructional faculty salaries, the instructional faculty won’t reach parity in our lifetime without a freeze on these administrators’ salaries,
Task Force response: The Task Force addresses this challenge in recommendation #4 “Limit the annual salary increments for top administrators (who are at or about the 80th percentile with respect to their peers in comparable institutions) until the goal of raising instructional faculty salaries to approximately the same level, relative to their peers, has been achieved. We recommend that until parity has been obtained, salary increases for top administrators be held to a level of approximately one percent annually.” As discussed at our April meeting, the AAUP is very concerned about the growing gap between faculty and upper level administrative salaries. Assuming most folks get less than a 4% raise, and administrators get a 2% raise, gap between faculty and administrative salaries would increase. This is not a radical recommendation, but a realistic one; it is not strong enough to remedy a problem which has developed in the last ten years. The Department of Labor recently reported that core inflation (which does not include energy or food costs) is increasing at about 3%; figure much higher than a year ago. The increase in the cost of living this year is probably higher in Northern Virginia and other major metropolitan areas.
Questions/Comment #13: We know that faculty evaluation by students is part of the salary process for faculty. Is the administrators evaluation by faculty part of their salary process?
Task Force response: We don’t know but address this issue in Recommendation # 5 “Fully disclose to the faculty the terms of the existing contracts of upper-level administrators. If the terms of specific contracts are protected by privacy constraints, general data should be provided. There should be full disclosure, e.g., of the general agreements regarding (a) salary adjustments and released time upon return of administrators to the instructional faculty; (b) severance and retirement agreements; (c) other benefits; and (d) the sources and amounts of all university-related income received by central administrators in addition to their reported salaries from the state.” The Task Force has concluded that increased transparency for issues of this type will produce accountability on the part of the decision makers and the faculty’s trust in the administration.
Question/Comment #14: Did the Task Force look at recent problems of University of California system with overly generous compensation packages for high level administrators?
Task Force response: This particular scandal was not discussed by the Task Force, but many of us have read about this situation in Chronicle of Higher Education. These special packages can result in a very significant commitment of resources which are of course diverted from the university’s central mission of teaching and scholarship. When one considers their influence on retirement benefits, in the aggregate they can cost a university and the taxpayers millions of dollars.
Question/Comment #15: It is easy to get hung up on administrative and instructional faculty salary differences. These differences must be dealt with, but not over-emphasized; I hope instructional faculty get substantial raises and I don’t care if administrative faculty get big raises.
Task Force response: Given what is going on in Virginia legislature with transportation, Mason is unlikely to receive the $30-plus million needed for a fair COLA. The university has had pretty good success at obtaining funding for buildings to share the costs; perhaps this approach would be successful for obtaining some state funding for a COLA for our faculty and staff colleagues.
Question/Comment #16: I feel like I’m Oliver Twist, “please, sir, may I have some more” Since when do deans get to “skim” monies from the pool of funds allocated for instructional faculty salary increases? This money should go to the instructional faculty for merit. Skimming has to stop.
Provost response: In his seven years as Provost, no funds have been diverted from faculty salaries to other uses. The 1% is held back by myself and the Deans to deal with special cases/equity issues. There had been no “skimming” for other purposes.
Question/Comment #17: As an undergraduate coordinator, I receive a 9 month salary for 12 month’s work. Those of us serving in administrative roles as undergraduate coordinators are not compensated for the work we must perform during the summer and during semester breaks. This also limits our research time.
Task Force response: While our goal is not to produce divisiveness between administration and faculty … if gap between high level administrators and the instructional faculty, it will be hard to have faculty power/governance. In some ways you’re defined by what you earn and the lower one’s earnings the harder it is to be taken seriously. The AAUP has been struggling with the rising gap between the salaries of university presidents and that of full professors; in past ten years, this salary differential has increased markedly for public doctoral-granting institutions. The exact size of the differential is increasingly difficult to discern given the increased use by universities of foundations to “hide” presidential compensation from public scrutiny.
Question/Comment #18: As discussed at spring meeting, Mason is experiencing a problem enticing new assistant professors to come here because of the high cost of living and especially the high cost of housing. What is status on faculty/staff housing proposals?
Mark Houck, Faculty Rep to Faculty/Staff Housing Workgroup response: The first units will come on line in a year or so – plus/minus a lot – will be 100% rental. Jokes about Presidential decisions – will have no say in rentals – priority first to new faculty, then existing faculty, then to staff. Next phases at least partially on west campus.
Question/Comment #19: One way to increase the salaries which lower paid faculty receive is to provide minimum salary increments in absolute dollars instead of percentages.
Task Force response: This is an interesting suggestion which needs to be explored.
Question/Comment #20: Thanks to the Task Force; a real positive move for GMU. When the starting teacher salaries in Fairfax County Public Schools for person’s with a BA degree is $41,000, it is imperative to help those (faculty) at bottom of the salary rung who are the most seriously underpaid. I think the cost of living statistic for Northern Virginia is 245% above the national norm (including food and housing). Congratulations to the Task Force.
Question/Comment #21: Anyone thought of a union?
III. Adjournment: The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m.