Volume 2006 No. 1

Spring, 2007

 


Minutes, Spring 2007 Meeting
of the Towson AAUP / Faculty Association

March 15, 2007
Linthicum 107, 3:30-5:00 pm

The meeting convened at 3:30 pm. As the first order of business, Doug Herman (Geography) was elected as Secretary.

Summary of conversations

Salary Compression:

It was noted that young faculty who arrived during the salary freeze, as well as senior faculty, all are experiencing salary compression. The Regents’ goal is that our salaries are in the 85th percentile of our peers. Using the mean, we are at the 79th percentile. That’s the current peers, not our “aspiration” peers. The 79th percentile is not “low.”

McLucas said that the administration was focusing on junior faculty, but noted that all faculty salaries are low.

Salary compression connects to merit, and how it is distributed. 2.5 % of department salaries are allocated for merit, and the department decides “units” of merit. Everyone gets the same amount per unit. But for those with larger salaries, merit pay constitutes a smaller percent increase. Thus people at the higher end of the salary scale get “compressed,” in that their pay increases are proportionally smaller each year.

There used to be a formula for calculating compression, but it is more complicated now because of merit money.

It was explained that there are “dashboard indicators” used by the Efficiency and Effectiveness Committee. These are a set of variables chosen for each institution for measurement against its peers. They are “shortcuts” for the Regents to see problems. Faculty Salaries are now a dashboard indicator for Towson. When merit money is allocated to the university, what constitutes “merit”? It was suggested that the Provost and Administration would like to control it. Another pot of money should be used for equity, retention and hiring, it was argued. But no other pot of money exists.

A junior faculty member noted that an extra $500 can make a big difference. A senior faculty stated that she recalled only one “bump” (decompression) in her time here.

It was asked when the last equity study had been done. Apparently it was done in 1992. The nature of that study was discussed. But the situation is more complex now because of merit money.
A recommendation was made for faculty to look at the next issue of Academe (published by the AAUP national) for salary comparision figures. A recent issue had a 2-page article about a college that worked out a system that resulted in faculty gaining much higher raises.

McLucas is going to get figures on the salaries for Towson faculty. It was noted that the AAUP used to have a Salary Committee. It was proposed that this committee be reactivated to deal with salary issues.

Proposal:

The CLA Council of Chairs has produced a document regarding Salary Compression. It was proposed that the AAUP look at this document, and produce its own statement on the issue. It is important that different faculty groups all put pressure on the administration to get action here.

Benefits:

There is a system-wide discussion regarding discrepancies. Maryland has a joint committee on pensions, and they are being urged by the Regents and others to raise the contribution to the Optional Retirement Plan. We should all speak to our delegates in the State government and tell them this is an important issue for faculty hiring and retention. It is, in fact, an issue for all State employees.

It was stated that the upper level administration needs to come up with more money to provide benefits. More money is in fact coming in, but why is it not going to our (faculty) priorities? There was disappointment about Caret’s upbeat attitude about Towson’s growth while faculty remain disaffected. Conversely, it was suggested that the Administration is cognizant of these concerns, but is addressing them a little at a time.

Teaching Load:

CLA has had the experience of department workload policies being formed, then overruled at the Provost level. In particular, the idea of rollover points (from year to year) has been overruled. There is no clear sense of why these different documents are being sent back. It was felt that we are waiting for guidance from the top, but also being divided at the grassroots level. The matter of workload documents needs to be dealt with at the university level, including clarification of the value and meaning of scholarship.

In one college, faculty wanted to control the workload document process at the college level, to avoid a higher-level imposition of standards. The Dean and the Chairs decided on one policy and imposed it.

In some cases, a course can be only 1 unit, but if it is counted as one course, this makes for an imbalanced situation. Credit count, class size all need to figure.

There was discussion regarding the apparent divide-and-conquer nature of the current situation.

A faculty from Business stated that the problem is beyond our control, and stems from Towson being run on a cost-sentiment, not a profit sentiment. This is antithetical to efficient running. This situation should be adjusted, but it is up to President Caret and the Provost to change the management system. We want a collegial, productive, fun environment.

McLucas noted that trust is important, and we (the AAUP members) need to see that processes are collegial.

A senior faculty stated that the Board of Regents sets the rules, and that Hoke Smith’s unapproved move to 3-3 is the root of the problem. Nonetheless, we have made the Board aware that

(a) Courseload does not equal Workload

(b) Non-tenure-track faculty need to be included in the counting
Some institutions understand how to “count creatively” and are teaching the rest of us. This brings our numbers towards compliance.

Proposals:

It was suggested that CLA create a college-wide workload committee. The CLA Council should take this on. This is a clear need to coordinate information and policy within the College.
We need to work on our department chairs: they need to bring back coherent messages.

Shared Governance:

It was noted that overall, blocks in communication channels at the department-chair and dean level is leaving some faculty furious, others disaffected. The chairs are “trained” by the Administration, and often it is the chairs that cause the barrier through stonewalling faculty, etc. Faculty from one college told horror stories about collusions between chairs and deans against faculty.

It was noted that some corporations use an ombudsman to look into such complaints. College Park has such an ombudsman. Towson can do this. But currently, at Towson the AAUP acts in that role. The AAUP has a grievance committee, which was reactivated last year, for just this purpose.

Further discussion ensued regarding the top-down manner in which Towson appears to be run. It was suggested that senior faculty need to speak out, get on committees, pass laws, etc. in order to push back.

Membership:

There are currently 97 active members. The following recommendations were made for recruiting new members:

  • Everyone present should get two new people to join. Face-to-face is deemed the best method of recruitment.
  • We should have a list of points drawn up, not just the points of issue, but our successes as well.
  • We could make it a “find a friend” game and publish the results of who recruits whom on our website.

Further Recommendations:

It was also recommended that we have more position statements published in the Towerlight. We can publish our minutes via our email list, and also get them into the Daily digest. It was deemed that it is best to circulate our minutes to the membership, and then write something for the Towerlight that draws on them.

 


© 2007 Towson University