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March 8, 2007

Report looks at faculty raises

Whether the glass is half full or half empty depends on one’s viewpoint.

The average salary raise among Pitt’s 1,811 continuing full-time faculty members (excluding the School of Medicine’s clinical departments) in fiscal year 2007 was 4.3 percent — more than a percentage point higher than the 3.25 percent salary pool increase for faculty in FY06.

On the other hand, 1,098 faculty, or about 60 percent of that total, received a raise of less than 3.4 percent (the calendar year 2005 inflation rate).

Those figures were revealed in a report prepared for the University Senate’s budget policies committee (BPC) by Pitt’s Management Information and Analysis office.

The report defines salary as what Pitt pays a faculty member, and does not include extra-contractual payments that a faculty member may have received.

Faculty in 12 of Pitt’s responsibility centers got average raises below the University-wide average of 4.3 percent. In 9 units, faculty received the University-wide average of 4.3 percent or higher.

Average raises for faculty ranged last year from 3.5 percent for the 63 faculty members at the Katz Graduate School of Business to 6.4 percent for the 20 faculty members at Pitt-Titusville.

Two “other” category listings are included in the salary report: Under the Provost’s area, “other” includes faculty in the School of Education’s University Service Programs, the School of Arts and Sciences dean’s office and the University Center for International Studies — a total of 32 faculty; “other” in the Health Sciences area covers the Health Sciences Library System — a total of 22 faculty.

In the report, full-time continuing faculty excluded the following: faculty employed in October 2005 but not employed in October 2006; hires made after Nov. 1, 2005; visiting faculty; faculty whose contract had changed from 9 months to 12 months or vice versa; faculty on leave without pay between October 2005 and October 2006; faculty who went from full time to part time or vice versa; academic administrators at the level of dean or above; faculty who changed responsibility centers, or faculty whose salary was reduced. Thus the 1,811 faculty members is 82.1 percent of the 2,205 full-time faculty overall total.

Pitt’s salary budget was increased by 3.25 percent for the fiscal year that began last July 1, distributed as follows: 1.75 percent salary maintenance raises for employees (staff as well as faculty) who received at least satisfactory performance evaluations; 1 percent for merit, market and equity raises as determined at the unit level, and 0.5 percent distributed by senior officers to address market imbalances.

Robert F. Pack, vice provost for academic planning and resources management, explained that the reason the average salary raise for continuing, full-time faculty University-wide (4.3 percent) exceeded both the base salary increase allotted to schools (2.75 percent) and the University’s overall salary pool increase (3.25 percent) is that funds were distributed based on each unit’s budgeted number of employees, regardless of how many of those positions were filled at the time.

“The fewer vacant positions you have, the closer, probably, the unit will be to the percentage [of the salary pool increase]; the more vacant positions you have, the more dollars you have to spread among the faculty in the unit,” Pack said.

There also are some positions, including certain lecturers whose contract salary is supplemented by grant funding outside the education and general funding stream, which might be a consideration in a unit’s decision to increase the contract salary, he added. “The tendency might be to provide a lower salary increase,” Pack said.

Among Pitt’s 1,811 continuing full-time faculty last year (excluding medical faculty except in the basic sciences departments, where faculty duties most closely resemble those of Provost area faculty):

• 63 faculty got raises of less than 1.5 percent.

• 449 received between 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent.

• 586 got between 2.6 percent and 3.3 percent.

• 380 got between 3.4 percent and 5 percent.

• 158 received between 5.1 percent and 7.5 percent.

• 73 got between 7.6 percent and 10 percent.

• 102 got at least 10.1 percent.

BPC focused most of its discussion on the group of faculty whose raises lagged behind the inflation rate of 3.4 percent.

“These are numbers that are always blunt instruments, but we know from the [overview chart] the percentage by unit, whether it’s a percentage increase of total salaries or an average percentage increase of individual faculty members, most of those unit numbers are well above 3.4 percent,” noted BPC chair Stephen Carr. “But if you look at the University, excluding the medical school except for the basic sciences departments, of the 1,811 faculty, 1,098 received a salary increase less than the rate of inflation, and that’s a continuing problem.”

BPC members noted that data indicate that a very small number (63) of the 1,811 total faculty got less than 1.5 percent increase in salary, which might indicate a small number performed less than satisfactorily.

“And that means that we can draw the inference that the salary policy is working, in other words that there are discriminations made on the basis of individual performance, which is what the policy intends,” Carr said. “It isn’t a mechanical process.”

Pack said, “It also is an indication, as you would expect, that people at the higher end continue to merit higher raises, one, because they’re established, have experience and have built a reputation and, two, because the likelihood is that they are continuing to do outstanding work.”

“That is consistent with the policy,” committee member Philip Wion said, “However, another intention of the policy is to give people increases at least at the inflation rate if they perform satisfactorily, and that didn’t happen, and it seems to be happening less.”

“That remains an area for the University to continue to attend to,” Carr added.

Arthur Ramicone, vice chancellor for Budget and Controller, noted that the issue might be less problematic in next year’s report given that the inflation figure will be 2.5 percent. If that number were applied to this year’s report, there would be an additional 586 faculty members who would have earned raises above the inflation rate, he pointed out.

Carr noted that there also is good news in the report for the 62 faculty librarians in the University Library System. Thirty-five of the faculty got raises above the rate of inflation, including 25 who received raises above 5 percent, committee members noted.

“The librarians’ salaries are a long-time concern and it’s heartening to see the salaries are increasing significantly and that good work of the University should be recognized,” Carr said.

Pack said, “We have a system where the assignments of salary are based on performance for last year. It is true that for those who are getting more than 10 percent that would include a response to external factors like market.”

Carr said, “While we’ve acknowledged here that the salary policy is working and that this report provides a lot of useful information, I think there is an ongoing concern of maintenance of real wages for large numbers of faculty. What we can’t tell from this report is if it’s the same faculty from year to year.”

Pack said, “The only solution to that in the long run has to be to increase the total size of the salary pool, because otherwise you have to suppress salaries or reduce staff.

“If you take the same amount of dollars the only way we can raise salaries for those who fall below a certain percent is to reduce salaries for those who are above that percent, not to apply the money in a different way,” he continued. “In other words, a narrowing of the range, or a flattening. The intention of the application of the salary policy is to make judgments about relative performance.”

Average raises for Pitt faculty appeared in the report, “Analysis of Salary Increases for Full-Time Continuing Faculty: FY 2006 to FY 2007,” produced by Management Information and Analysis (formerly the Office of Institutional Research).

(See related story on employee salaries this issue.)

—Peter Hart

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