Notice, February 1997

Notes from the Chair: Faculty Salaries

Faculty salaries how they are to be established, whether they come close to matching our competitive institutions, and which individuals are to be rewarded are of great importance both to the long-term quality of this University and to each of us in a personal way. Elsewhere in this issue one will find several aspects of faculty compensation discussed. For example, the chart on page 3 illustrates clearly how the methodology that formerly positioned UC's average salaries quite competitively now is failing. As salaries paid in the past six years at the private universities within the "comparison-eight" group have diverged from those paid by the publics, the gap has grown between UC salaries and our real competition the privates. As of October, UC faculty salaries lagged the private institutions in our comparison group by nearly 15 percent, as compared to a full comparison-eight lag of only about 3.5 percent.

On page 1 of this issue, we have a story discussing how UC Berkeley proposes to deal with the admittedly inadequate salaries for faculty in its Haas School of Business. Many other proposals have been made in the last few years on how to deal with inadequacies in the UC merit/promotion ladder, among them a proposal to add Steps IX and X at the Professor rank, another to mimic the x, y, z formulation of the medical school compensation plans. The latter idea would include, in addition to a salary component determined by ladder rank, a second component related to the specific discipline, and a third roughly related to an individual's "market value" to the University. All of these proposals uniformly attempt to address the problem; thus all should be carefully analyzed and evaluated.

In surveying the UC system, one is forced to conclude that no system anywhere comes near it in terms of both the number of top-quality academic programs and the sustained aspiration of faculty on all campuses to compete at the topmost levels. In the view of many, the ladder system at UC has been chiefly responsible for the unique development of quality across this University - - originally at Berkeley and then in rapid order at the newer campuses. Many people believe it is no coincidence that these dramatic results have been achieved in a system that has used, since its earliest days, a process of peer review in evaluating and rewarding its faculty.

At the February Regents meeting, the Academic Council and the UCOP Academic Affairs office will make a presentation on how the UC merit/promotion system works. The idea for the presentation grew, in part, from a discussion I began at the December Regents meeting. At that time my goal was simple: to convince the Regents to urge the state that UC faculty salaries be "brought to parity" in one year (1997-98) instead of the two remaining years of the Governor's compact. (As it turned out, the Regents did make such a recommendation, but the Governor chose not to include it in his proposed budget.) Given a discussion on salaries, it seemed appropriate to inform the Regents, in some detail, of the means by which faculty salaries are decided upon at UC. This is especially relevant now, with the issue of "post-tenure review" on the table of many university governing boards. It seems worthwhile to communicate to our board that UC's procedures have always incorporated rigorous peer review at each post-tenure step; and to let them know that we go further on the occasion of three major post-tenure promotions, soliciting anonymous outside reviews that form the critical basis of the recommendation.

This merit/promotion process differs from those used at other universities. At most other institutions there is a significant component of "bargaining" between the faculty member under review and the chair and/or dean. In discussing alternatives to our present ladder, it is important for us to evaluate to what degree any proposed plan would retain the distinguishing feature of our traditional process. To what extent will a review system be driven by faculty evaluations of the quality of each candidate's teaching and research? In my own view, shared governance is less about who takes care of the management details than about who decides the crucial academic issues. Among the most important of these are: "Who is to be a UC faculty member?" and "On what basis is each UC faculty member to be rewarded?"

--Duncan Mellichamp
Chair, Academic Council