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April 17, 2003

Report shows fewer faculty than originally reported got higher raises

When trustees awarded Pitt senior administrators raises ranging from 5.4 percent to 13.9 percent last December, chairperson William S. Dietrich II said the increases were compatible with Pitt practices that produce varied sizes of raises due to performance and market factors.

Using faculty raises as an example, he noted that while Pitt’s budget for employee salaries increased by 3.5 percent this year, about 17 percent of faculty (excluding those in the physician practice plan) got raises higher than 7.5 percent, and more than 11 percent of faculty (again, excluding those in the practice plan) received pay hikes exceeding 10 percent.

But the numbers that were provided to Dietrich were inflated, according to a report by Pitt’s Office of Institutional Research.

Actually, the report shows, 14.5 percent (not 17 percent) of faculty outside the practice plan got raises in excess of 7.5 percent, and 8.2 percent (not 11 percent) received raises in excess of 10 percent.

The main reason for the discrepancy was that Dietrich’s numbers, provided to him by Pitt budget staff, included faculty who got promotions — from assistant to associate professor, for example — whereas, the job ranks and duties of Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and his administrative team did not change essentially last year. Also, trustees awarded “deferred retention incentive” bonuses of $75,000 per year to the chancellor and $50,000 annually to three other Pitt officers over the next five years. Faculty received no such bonuses.

Inflated percentages and apples-and-oranges comparisons aside, what infuriated faculty was that Dietrich compared officers’ and faculty members’ salaries in the first place, according to English professor Stephen Carr, a member of the Senate’s budget policies committee.

At BPC’s April 4 meeting, Carr said: “Rather than make a case that many people at this University deserve substantial raises, [the approach] was: Let’s deflect criticism from one group directly to another group” — i.e., from the senior administration to the faculty.

“It creates misleading impressions for the community at large, and I would advise that that practice be discontinued,” said Carr, directing his comments to administrators at the meeting, including Vice Chancellor Arthur G. Ramicone and Vice Provost Robert F. Pack.

Students upset by last fall’s 13.9 percent tuition hike and by hefty pay hikes for administrators were further angered to read that so many faculty got raises above 7.5 percent, said Carr.

Unfortunately, he said, students tended to vent their anger against faculty such as those in the arts and sciences’ humanities departments (average raise: 3.22 percent) where pay increases were not so substantial.

— Bruce Steele

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