Faculty and administration are considering possible changes to the faculty salary plan, at the behest of the Board of Trustees.
“The Board is responsible for the fiscal well-being of the college,” said Provost Susan Steele. Steele believes it is “quite possible” to come to an agreement which will meet everyone’s needs.
There are two committees discussing the changes to the faculty salary plan, one comprised of faculty, the other of three administrative officers, including Steele.
“There’s a wide range of issues [to consider],” said English professor Tom Strychacz, a member of the faculty committee discussing the possible changes.
The current faculty salary plan has been in effect since 1989. According to Steele, it is time to question whether the old plan is still working.
“We want a faculty salary plan which will provide adequate and sustaining compensation for faculty, and we also want fiscal viability,” said Steele.
As negotiating begins, some members of faculty would like to remember the benefits of the original faculty salary plan.
“I’d like people to see the value of the current plan. I’m not sure everybody understands the value of the current plan, but I would like a plan that the Board of Trustees is confident in,” said government professor Paul Schulman.
“The plan as it now stands was carefully put together,” said English professor Stephen Radcliffe. “It works well. It’s not broken.”
According to Schulman, the current plan is objective, easy to interpret, and it maintains continuity along a career path.
“It is competitive with whom we’d like to be competitive, and I think at a small institution it’s been a nice way of equalizing people’s income opportunities and creating a better sense of community,” said Schulman.”I hope to hold onto the positive values of the [current] plan.”
According to Steele, they are considering the faculty salary plan as it relates to three different factors. The college’s current plan is comparable to the faculty salary plans of other liberal arts colleges around the country, including Wellesley College, Scripps College, Reed College and Pomona College.
“There are questions as to whether they are the right colleges to compare Mills to,” said Steele. She said that the current plan bases the salaries of professors on the salaries of their counterparts at other colleges, and that a plan that considers a professor’s entire work at the college may be preferred.
Faculty salaries are directly effected by the overall financial state of the college. The size of the colleges’ endowment, other gifts to the college, the number of students, and the amount of financial aid the students receive all factor into the economic well-being of the college.
Another area of the faculty salary plan under review is level of pay. In the current plan, the faculty’s salaries are based on whether they are a part time, assistant, or full time tenured professor. This is known as the step system. The committees are reviewing whether there could be more flexibility in the advancement process, based perhaps on merit or the outside demand of faculty in a particular discipline.
“It gives an incentive to individual faculty members that the step system doesn’t,” said Steele.
The process and qualifications for merit review are also coming under consideration, according to Steele. Hypothetically, a faculty member could be compensated for greater service to the community, whether in recruiting students through admissions, or writing books and articles that put the college on the map.
Members of the faculty and administration are hoping to present a plan that will meet everyone’s needs by February. However, negotiations could be temperamental.
“I anticipate passion. I anticipate that and I value that,” said Steele. “We just have to make sure the passion doesn’t sweep us away.”
“It would be optimal to have a plan that meets everyone’s needs, and that’s where the creative part comes in,” said Steele.