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May 13, 2010

BPC requests longitudinal salary data

The University Senate budget policies committee is requesting longitudinal information to supplement the administration’s annual report on mean and median salaries at Pitt.

In response to the presentation of Pitt’s Management Information and Analysis report on mean and median salaries of full time faculty and staff for fiscal year 2009 at BPC’s April 30 meeting, Senate President Michael Pinsky proposed examining faculty salary trends over a multi-year period.

“I have a hard time looking at any data from one year alone,” he said, adding that a comparison of faculty salaries over a longer period of time would give the committee perspective on trends and help guide future salary discussions.

Because each salary report is a snapshot of Pitt employees as of a certain date (the current report is based on Oct. 31, 2008, employment), the employees enumerated in the report vary from year to year, meaning that a strict apples-to-apples comparison isn’t possible. Recognizing that limitation, Pinsky argued that the size of the University workforce is large enough to render some helpful information.

“If the population is large enough then that degree of variance will not be an issue in terms of you looking over time,” he said. The overall salary data can be influenced by faculty being promoted through the ranks or full professors leaving or retiring, for example. But, while there may be some variance in a given year, over time a trend should emerge, he said.

“Unless you significantly change the demographics of the population, it should be able to be followed as a mean and median value,” Pinsky said. “Although the individuals can’t be looked at, the trends still are valid.”

The committee agreed to request a report showing faculty pay (by rank) from the past five mean and median salary reports in relation to pay at public Association of American Universities institutions.

Vice Chancellor for Budget and Controller Arthur G. Ramicone agreed to convey the committee’s request to the provost.

Another report typically sought by BPC is not being requested this year due to the University’s pay freeze. Management Information and Analysis prepares a report on salary increases for full-time continuing faculty at BPC’s request each year, but BPC chair John J. Baker did not request that report this year because there was no salary pool increase. “I didn’t think it would show much,” he said. Committee member Phil Wion reiterated his contention that “there might have been some value in seeing how many people indeed did get some raises even though there was a freeze,” adding that the lack of a report “breaks the continuity” for BPC’s review of the report.

In other business:

Baker noted that the full University planning and budgeting committee held its last meeting of the fiscal year April 29. As part of the University’s annual budget process, UPBC, made up of faculty, staff, students and administrators, develops budget parameters and recommends compensation increases to the chancellor.

Baker said, “I think UPBC had a very fruitful discussion on parameters for next year,” adding that because UPBC deliberations are confidential, he could not provide details. “There was a lot of discussion and I thought it was a very good discussion,” he said.

A closed portion of the April 30 BPC session was devoted to discussion of BPC’s own recommendations for fiscal year 2011 salary pool increases.

Members were provided historic data on how Pitt’s salary pool and average faculty salary increases compared with inflation rates over the past five years. “I think it’s a negative trend we need to discuss,” Baker said.

In four of the past five years, more than half the faculty who performed satisfactorily or better received pay increases that were less than the increase in the Consumer Price Index, according to figures compiled by Baker. While the fiscal year 2010 Consumer Price Index rose 0.1 percent, Pitt’s FY10 pay freeze meant that more than 95 percent of faculty still lost ground compared with inflation. Although the current fiscal year’s figure can be attributed to extenuating circumstances, Baker said, in FY08, 11 percent of faculty received pay raises that fell below the CPI’s 2.5 percent increase. In the other three of the past five years, 54-57 percent of Pitt faculty whose performance was rated satisfactory or better received increases that failed to keep pace with inflation.

Baker noted that he had examined more extensively the relation between Pitt’s salary policy and faculty members’ actual buying power in a University Times Senate Matters column. (See Oct. 12, 2006, University Times.)

Nomination of committee officers is expected to take place at the May BPC meeting. Although the committee is scheduled to meet May 28, Baker told the University Times that the date would be changed. The new date had not been set as of press time.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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