Member's Guest Column
Note: New Feature! Each issue of the AAUP Newsletter will now feature a Guest Column by one of our members. Here is our first.
Towson Faculty Salary Irregularities Issue
Richard E. Vatz, Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
A little known Towson University scandal affects all faculty members, over one third negatively and some even profoundly so.
For nearly 20 years and until just a few years back, Towson inexplicably calculated merit raises by taking faculty members’ department averages and giving each professor a percentage of that amount (say, 1-4%) for their single merit raise for each year.
If a faculty member’s department was successful in attracting more students --and particularly if older, relatively high salaried professors left or retired -- it could hire new instructors or assistant professors and/or replace those higher earning professors. The result was that the average pay for such a department would decrease and so, therefore, would merit raises for its faculty.
In essence departments with larger pay averages received larger merit raises, and those with smaller pay averages received smaller merit raises -- and the size of the average pay often varied inversely with the success of the department.
The provost’s Budget Director, who superintended the merit awarding for eight-nine years, but who never apparently apprised anyone of its unequal consequences, was unrepentant. In a prudent move by Provost Marcia Welsh, this budget officer was pushed out of the university.
No study has yet been produced by Towson’s administration to discover wherein the individual salary differences lie or how severe they are. Towson Senate President Tim Sullivan has estimated that some faculty are losing thousands of dollars each year, even with the recent change in base to college average.
To this date the administration has not recompensed the affected parties.
The salary disgrace is one that the AAUP can and should address and rectify.