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February 23, 2012

Pay issues dominate budget policies meeting

Faculty and staff pay reports were the focus of the Feb. 20 University Senate budget policies committee meeting.

A planned report on the analysis of salary increases for full-time continuing faculty has been delayed until a future meeting, but BPC members received the annual report on the mean and median salaries of full-time employees. (See related story, this issue.)

Bob Goga, assistant director of the Office of Institutional Research, presented the annual salary report for full-time faculty and staff for fiscal year 2011, which is based on employee counts as of October 2010.

His presentation prompted discussion among BPC members as to whether a similar report on part-time faculty salaries would be useful.

Pitt-Greensburg faculty member Beverly Gaddy, BPC vice chair, said there are significant numbers of part-time faculty at UPG. She said a salary report for part-time faculty could shed light on pay equity. Full-time faculty have a four-course per term teaching load, but some part-time faculty teach three courses — and at least one has done so for decades, she said.

According to Pitt’s most recent Fact Book, in fall 2011, 906 of Pitt’s 5,337 faculty, or approximately 17 percent, were part-time. Part-time faculty make up 21 percent of the regional campuses’ faculty and 16 percent of the Pittsburgh campus faculty.

Barbara Warnick of communication said, “There has to be some justification for salary settings somewhere,” for people with the same approximate experience and qualifications. “People in the same category should be treated in the same way,” she said, noting that increasingly they are not. “And they do compare notes, so this leads to very bad morale sometimes in departments.”

Noting that part-time employment is becoming the norm for faculty in higher education, BPC pro-tem member Phil Wion agreed that a Pitt report on part-time faculty pay could be valuable. “Maybe it is time to take a closer look at that increasingly large chunk of Pitt faculty salaries,” he said.

However, other BPC members questioned how to obtain meaningful institution-wide results given the variety of roles part-time faculty play. Jay Sukits of business noted that professional schools use part-time faculty differently than do the regionals or even the arts and sciences areas. Areas such as law or business may draw on experts in the field to teach one course or guest lecture, while other areas use part-time faculty more extensively. “It’s a mixed bag how schools handle faculty needs,” he said.

BPC chair John J. Baker acknowledged the issue is complex and asked for volunteers to form a subcommittee to meet privately with administrators to discuss how to obtain useful information on part-time faculty and their salaries. He requested that interested members contact him.


In other business, Baker said a review of the BPC mission statement would be on the March meeting agenda. He plans to ask for a vote on whether changes are needed, in response to a request by University Senate president Michael R. Pinsky that standing Senate committees review their mission statements.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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