Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

March 4, 2010

Regional benchmark group okayed, dissatisfaction noted

Pitt’s three largest regional campuses now have a new official group of peer institutions for benchmarking faculty salaries.

Faculty Assembly last week approved a Provost office-endorsed list of schools that would be used as benchmarks for the Bradford, Greensburg and Johnstown campuses.

While Faculty Assembly approved the benchmarking group of Carnegie IIB schools in the three AAUP regions bordering Pennsylvania, Assembly members also recognized regional campus faculty dissatisfaction with the process of developing the benchmarking list and urged that there be more attention to shared governance when policies affecting the regionals are developed.

The regional benchmarking issue was aired at the January 26 Assembly meeting and discussed by University Senate budget policies committee (BPC) Jan. 29. (See Feb. 4 University Times.) BPC proposed two related resolutions for Faculty Assembly approval.

In introducing the BPC resolutions, committee chair John Baker noted that the issue had festered for about a decade. Since the mid-1990s, the benchmark group used for the three regionals had been satellite campuses at 18 Carnegie Classification category IIB Association of American Universities public schools. (Category IIB schools emphasize undergraduate baccalaureate-level education.)

Pitt’s administration said this was not an appropriate benchmarking group for Pitt’s regional campuses “because they are quite different from the regional campuses of other AAU universities,” Baker reported.

Several alternative groups of institutions have been proposed by faculty at the regionals, but none fulfilled the Provost’s office requirement of being agreed to by both the regional faculty senates and by the three campus presidents.

Rather than see the stalemate continue, Baker, who was Senate president at the time, urged the administration and the regional campus senate presidents to accept the Provost’s office proposed group.

BPC’s resolution No. 1, which was approved by Faculty Assembly, reads:

“RESOLVED, That Faculty Assembly recommends to the Provost that the Carnegie IIB schools in the three AAUP regions bordering Pennsylvania (i.e., the Middle Atlantic Region, East North Central Region and South Atlantic Region) be accepted for benchmarking faculty salaries at Pitt’s regional campuses.”

The resolution was approved by a vote of 30-0, with 1 abstention.

Baker said the approved benchmark group was a reasonable compromise. “It will benefit Pitt’s regional campus faculty because it shows that their salaries are low compared to the average salaries for faculty in the proposed benchmarking group, giving regional faculty a measurable basis for future potential equity adjustments,” he said.

Assembly members also approved BPC’s resolution addressing regional faculty dissatisfaction with the process used to create the benchmark list.

The resolution, which was approved by a vote of 22-9, reads in part:

“Whereas, the discussions between regional campus faculty and the administration preceding agreement that the Carnegie IIB schools in the three AAUP regions … be accepted for benchmarking faculty salaries at Pitt’s regional campuses were prolonged and contentious. Therefore, be it: RESOLVED, That Faculty Assembly calls upon all parties to be more attentive to collegial processes of shared governance in the future in developing policies affecting the regional campuses.”

The second resolution intentionally does not take sides or lay blame, Baker said. “It simply notes that the discussions were prolonged and contentious and calls on all parties to be more collegial in the future,” he said.

Baker acknowledged that many faculty at the regionals are unhappy because they felt they did not have a true voice in the process of determining an appropriate list, and that their proposed lists were not given fair consideration by the central administration. Provost James V. Maher responded in a statement on the process, which was published in the Feb. 4 University Times.

At the Feb. 23 Faculty Assembly meeting, the Pitt-Bradford Faculty Senate Council submitted a statement on the issue for the record. The statement, in part, said: “We do not wish to see this process dragged out any longer and will work with whatever list allows us to move forward. Sadly, Pitt’s regional faculty salaries at every rank are well below the averages of even the provost’s preferred list. When the time comes to celebrate the closure of that gap, perhaps we will be able to revisit this issue so far as to adopt a more representative benchmark group. In the meantime, we look forward to putting the conflict behind us and getting on with the more urgent matter of raising regional faculty salaries to a level that will allow us to compete with our peers in hiring and retaining faculty.”

In other Faculty Assembly business:

Members approved two resolutions proffered by the bylaws and procedures committee to change the wording in the Senate bylaws. According to committee chair Nicholas Bircher, the first resolution is substantive, the second, editorial.

Under Senate bylaws, the 15 standing committees have 14 voting members (nine faculty, four students and one staff member), but no statement exists in the bylaws regarding what constitutes a quorum, Bircher explained.

Under Robert’s Rules of Order, a quorum is needed to validate any committee business, he noted. Following the bylaws pattern that defines Faculty Assembly’s quorum as one-third of the voting members, the bylaws and procedures committee recommended adding a sentence to Article IV, Section 4, which, following its approval at the Feb. 23 Assembly, now reads: “Five members shall constitute a quorum, at least three of whom must be faculty members.”

The quorum definition also applies to special Senate committees, Bircher said.

The second bylaws amendment applies to Article V, Section 7, paragraph 5, which governs faculty appointments to standing committees in the event of a vacancy during an unexpired term.

Bircher said the committee wanted to avoid ambiguity by emending the final clause in paragraph 5.

The sentence (with the change in italics) now reads: “This appointment will be made official for the remainder of the unexpired term upon ratification by a majority of the voting members of the committee.

The sustainability subcommittee, part of the Senate plant utilization and planning committee, is co-sponsoring a Blue, Gold and Green Sustainability Festival, set for April 8 and 9. Details are available at

—Peter Hart

Leave a Reply