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March 4, 2010

BPC resolution perceived by some as one-sided

In light of Faculty Assembly’s Feb. 23 approval of two budget policies committee resolutions regarding regional salary benchmarks, BPC members prepared to move on to other issues, but not without a bit more discussion to wrap up the contentious issue.

Commenting at the Feb. 26 BPC meeting, committee chair John Baker expressed surprise at the lengthy discussion that ensued at Faculty Assembly over the resolution he authored that called for “all parties to be more attentive to collegial processes of shared governance in the future in developing policies affecting the regional campuses” in light of the protracted discussions involved in arriving at a regional campus peer group.

“I thought it was a simple resolution and it was written that way because I didn’t want to blame anybody. I just wanted to say, just acknowledge the fact that the discussions were prolonged in the past and that in the future we hope things would go a little better,” Baker told BPC.

Chancellor’s liaison to BPC Robert F. Pack, vice provost for academic planning and resources management, told the committee there is a perception that the resolution was one-sided. Pack was not present at the Feb. 23 Faculty Assembly meeting.

Baker acknowledged, “I realize a lot of people took it that way. It wasn’t meant that way.”

Noting that the resolution was aimed at regional faculty as well as the administration, Baker explained, “I just wanted to acknowledge the fact that the discussions were long, it was a long time, and in the future hopefully to work together a little better.”

Baker acknowledged that the benchmark, viewed by many as fair, is not the one regional faculty wanted.

“I have a great deal of sympathy for them because I think their salaries are low but the University has a process to gradually raise that. That’s been working — I think the provost would tell you that — and it’s just slower than they want. They’re frustrated and I think a lot of this was just because of their frustration.”

BPC committee member Stephen Carr said his proposal for a two-part resolution was rooted in the desire to move beyond the benchmarking issue. To that end, Carr withdrew a motion he made at the Jan. 29 BPC meeting calling for the so-called “Greensburg List” to be included as an appendix to the University’s regional faculty salary report.

Carr pointed out that the report does not drive the University’s salary policy, but only provides a rough benchmark from which to show faculty salary progress. “I think it’s very important to acknowledge the frustrations of both sides,” Carr said, reiterating, “The goal was to move on.”

Pack agreed that adding other lists to the report is not necessary, noting that individuals are free to use the underlying data on which it is based on their own.

“We’re not going to undermine an institutional document by saying, ‘If you don’t like these, use whatever subset you want then tell us what you think,’” he said.

BPC did support committee member pro-tem Phil Wion’s recommendation to request that the report list the institutions and their salary figures in the same format as the Pittsburgh campus faculty salary report in order to see where Pitt’s regional campuses collectively stand in comparison.

With the broader list of some 255 institutions, not only is it possible to learn where Pitt’s regionals fall in relation to the group mean or median, Wion said, “ You can also see what other institutions are above and below, and so you can sort of get a better feel for where the competition is, or what kinds of institutions our salaries are grouping us with.”

To view last year’s faculty salary comparisons, visit

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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