Provost denies senate’s motion on performance raises


Santiago Covarrubias/CHRONICLE

The Faculty Senate passed a motion regarding salary increases at a Feb. 12 meeting, which was later rejected by Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden.

By Campus Reporter

Senior Vice President and Provost Stan Wearden vetoed in a Feb. 25 email a recently passed Faculty Senate motion broadening the faculty eligibility for performance-based salary increases.

The response, directed to the president of the Faculty Senate, Greg Foster-Rice, and the chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee, Curtis Lawrence, addressed a motion passed by the Faculty Senate at its Feb. 12 meeting recommending making all full-time faculty eligible for raises without exceptions.

Many faculty members, including those on the Faculty Senate, expressed concerns about the recently announced performance-based salary evaluation system. 

Their concerns  included the lack of a cost-of-living raise, the fostering of  a hierarchical system by allowing department chairs to rank faculty and the potential for subjectivity.

The Senate also was critical of faculty members who recently received a salary increase to raise it to the floor level and insufficient communication with faculty in developing the process.

Wearden announced the performance-based salary increase in a Jan. 12 email sent to faculty, explaining the criteria used to evaluate eligible faculty, including the Faculty Annual Reports, student course evaluations and the department leadership criteria.

According to the email, assistant professors, visiting lecturers, part-time faculty members and any full-time faculty member who received a salary increase after May 1, 2015, are ineligible.

In the Feb. 25 email, Wearden explained a change in eligibility requirements is not possible because the process is well underway.

“I would like to propose that, after the increases are awarded, and we have had time to see the effects of the current process and gather feedback, we form a committee of members of Faculty Senate and of the Office of the Provost to propose improvements to the process for the future,” Wearden said. 

Guiding principles in the new compensation system call for rewarding faculty who exceed performance expectations, ensuring that eligible faculty receive raises and awarding raises to those who have not received increases in the last calendar year.

Foster-Rice, Faculty Senate president and associate professor in the Photography Department, praised the administration for introducing the first performance-based raise but said the Senate had concerns with the system.

Foster-Rice acknowledged via email Feb. 26 there will be disappointment, but said the senate knowingly took a risk in requesting changes when the process was already underway. He said the senate appreciated the email, but the college needs to write a clearer salary policy.

Jeff Abell, an associate professor in the Art & Art History Department, said he understands there is limited funding for raises and the administration sees performance-based increases as the best way to proceed. However, he said the model could impact morale because there have not been any recent cost-of-living increases.

Abell also said he is concerned about faculty retention                                                                                                        and a potential for subjectivity. 

“It needs to take place in conjunction with finding ways to increase faculty salary overall,” Abell said.   

“I’m worried if they don’t keep up with paying the faculty at a reasonable rate, they’re going to start losing people,” Abell said. 

College spokeswoman Cara Birch said before the performance-based salary increases, raises were determined by individual departments through their own sets of criteria, the board for all faculty and staff, or through promotions.

“This is the first time [raises are] being standardized across the college,” Birch said. 

Birch said each department will have its own pool and will put all the eligible faculty members’ salaries into a master pool which will be allocated for the salary increases. 

“It’s not a 2 percent allocation—it’s 2 percent of the entire eligible faculty pool,” Birch said. 

Most faculty did not become aware of the process or criteria for the performance-based salary increases until very late, Lawrence said. 

He added that while the senate appreciated the idea, the group had concerns about how some faculty members were excluded. 

“I’m glad the motion will result in a continued dialogue that will hopefully bring some clarity to the rationale and the process regarding performance-based raises,” Lawrence said.