Monday, July 25, 2011

Poshard on Faculty Salaries

A second post on Poshard's morning conversation today.  When pushed a bit about funding on new recruitment and retention schemes--"enrollment management" (as if we are in the business of managing students), marketing, Saluki First Year--and on whether funds spent on such things should rather go to support faculty and staff (i.e., faculty and staff directly engaged in our core mission of education and research), Poshard sounded another theme: faculty salaries went up a lot in the last contract, and something has to give this time around.  Poshard's argument boils down to this: we're paying you almost as much as you deserve, so we should be able to cut your pay or lay you off whenever we want to

Poshard threw around various figures from what he said was the 2010 IBHE report on faculty salaries. He said that when he took over as President, one of the goals given to him by the BOT was to bring up faculty salaries to par, and he said this had been done.  Has it?

I was able only to access the IBHE 2009 report. This report confirms what we already knew: the FY 2006-2010 contract did indeed help SIUC faculty to make up ground. As an end result we were paid, in 2009, 93.6% of what our peers were paid. We likely made up more ground in FY 2010, the last year of that contract, but then we lost ground in FY 2011 (via the salary freeze plus furloughs). I'm not going to spend the hours needed to confirm this, but surely we remain roughly 5% behind our peers now.  That's still a much better position than we were in before the last contract. The FA clearly deserves much of the credit for making these gains. It's good news for SIUC and SIUC faculty.  But it's hardly paradise.

Poshard's claim that SIUC faculty have caught up is true in a certain limited sense: we are probably now no farther behind our peers than are the rest of Illinois higher ed faculty.  Indeed, if we consider our lousy benefits (particularly pensions), in FY 2009 Illinois faculty received only 87.9% of the compensation of their peers. 

And talk of salary is to some extent a smokescreen for the central debates in current contract negotiations: the administration's power play to undermine any contract via claiming the power to unilaterally impose furloughs, and their attack on tenure through new contract language on layoffs. The fact that we are within range of our peers in terms of salaries doesn't justify these administrative moves. 

There is a real debate about the allocation of resources on campus. Cheng and Poshard clearly believe that it's worth spending more money on administrative efforts to aid recruitment and retention while cutting spending on faculty and staff. Of course some retention efforts do support our fundamental effort: Saluki First Year is, I hope, an educational program, not merely a marketing ploy. And SIUC must market itself, and could presumably do a better job than it has in the past. 

But I rather doubt that any rearrangement of the administrative flow-chart or improvement in "enrollment management" will make a huge difference in enrollment. The shift of resources to administration, and the concomitant belief on the part of administrators that they ought to have the unilateral power to make decisions on campus, will undermine any gains made by new & improved management. Ultimately this institution won't thrive or decline thanks to administration: it will rise and fall depending on the education and research we deliver, or fail to deliver. The administration can enable this work or it can suck resources from it and starve it. Administrators who make themselves and their managerial prowess the focus of attention, rather than the education and research they are supposed to enable, won't lead this place to long term success. Surely student enrollment has some correlation with the quality of education a school offers. And research funding and other less tangible forms of research success depend on the quality of our research.

I can't claim to have the answer to SIUC's enrollment problem, but surely poor relations between faculty & staff and the administration don't help. If there are strikers standing in front of the signs welcoming folks to campus this fall, it really won't help much if those signs have a new logo.


  1. I am really sick of hearing Poshard and Cheng on budget and other campus issues. One is plagiarist and the other is a dictator who has no idea how a campus should be run. I do not trust them anymore. It is time for the faculty and staff to take the campus back from these incompetent leaders. Strike! Strike! Strike!

  2. Poshard is a liar. We are not up to par with our peers and the salary compression issue still remains.


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