November 24, 2008
Dear President Robinson,
The question posed at the last Faculty Association meeting on morale issues caused by compression and inversion on salaries demands more than a simple yes or no response.
It is easy to understand how colleagues who have documented records of excellence in teaching, service and scholarship would question why their contributions to UNF would not qualify them to be paid a higher salary than a new faculty member who is joining the university with limited experience. I know I would be asking that question.
Certainly, we have come to understand that market demands in various disciplines lead to some significant salary differences across fields of study. And we have even accepted, albeit reluctantly, that changing market forces may lead to instances of compression in the salaries of more senior faculty members when compared to salaries of newly hired colleagues.
As a practice, the Provost’s office works with the college deans to ensure that the area of specialization of a new hire; the strengths the hire brings to department, including the ability to add depth to the curriculum; and the new faculty member’s completed research along with his current research agenda warrants a particular salary.
Finally, of course, is the force of the market. What does it cost to hire a new professional? Compression and inversion are issues that many professions face: law, engineering, accounting, medicine, etc.
The decision does, however, point to at least two issues that we must continue to confront on this campus and throughout academia — salaries that are too low across the board and the consequences of salary compression. This administration and the University’s Board of Trustees take seriously both of these concerns and have pledged to make them a top priority. Regrettably, neither can be solved quickly, and the current economy suggests that we will need to move more slowly than we had hoped. The attached chart indicates our progress from 2003 through last year. (Click to view attachment)
I can also assure you that maintaining the quality of education we offer to our students and improving our pay for faculty have been and remain our most critical goals. The primacy of this latter goal is made apparent by the ongoing and serious conversations we have had among the executive staff and with our Board of Trustees. You are under paid and we are working locally and in Tallahassee to find ways to address these inequities.
John A. Delaney