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April 2, 2009

Faculty raise report: Both good & bad news

Inflation rose to 4.1 percent in 2008, up from 2.5 percent the previous year, and half of Pitt’s faculty raises in fiscal year 2009 did not keep pace.

Of Pitt’s 1,851 continuing full-time faculty members, 1,092 faculty, or about 59 percent of that total, received a raise that was lower than the 4.1 percent increase in the corresponding consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U).

On the other hand, the average pay hike for continuing full-time faculty members in fiscal year 2009 was 5.3 percent — more than a percentage point higher than the 4 percent salary pool increase for that year.

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.

2008 salary chartFaculty in 12 responsibility centers got average raises below the University-wide average of 5.3 percent. In nine units, faculty received higher increases than the University-wide average. (Download full-size chart.)

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 35 faculty, who received an average increase of 6.5 percent. “Other” in the Health Sciences area covers the Health Sciences Library System — a total of 24 faculty, who received raises averaging 4.6 percent.

At the request of BPC, for comparison purposes salary data in the report also are broken down by total University faculty including medical faculty but only those in basic sciences departments, where faculty duties most closely resemble those of Provost-area faculty.

There were 1,708 full-time continuing faculty in that category, whose average raise was 5.2 percent. Of those, 148 received raises of 10 percent or more; 116 received 7.50-9.99 percent; 451 got an increase of 4.1-7.49 percent; 942 received 2.5-4.09 percent, and 51 received a raise of less than 2.5 percent.

By unit, average raises for faculty ranged this year from 4.4 percent for the 26 faculty members in the School of Information Sciences to a high of 8.5 percent for the 57 faculty members at Pitt-Bradford.

The FY09 salary pool increase, as determined by the chancellor, was 2.5 percent for salary maintenance increases for employees whose performance was rated at least satisfactory; 1 percent for merit, market and equity adjustments to be made at the unit level, and 0.5 percent to be distributed by senior officers to address market imbalances among various units within the University.

Robert F. Pack, vice provost for academic planning and resources management, explained at the March 27 BPC meeting that the reason the average salary raise for continuing full-time faculty University-wide of 5.3 percent exceeded Pitt’s 4 percent salary pool increase 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.

“In the Provost’s area, the first factor is the salary pool,” Pack said. “Units receive an equal percentage increase in their base budget, and then they are eligible for additional funding from the Provost’s office based on a number of factors. That there can be significant swings in the percentage increase from one unit to another to some extent depends on the number of vacant positions. The increase goes for all positions whether they’re vacant or not. That’s why historically the average raise is higher than the raise pool, and that was true this year as well. So for units who gave a higher percentage on average, it’s often because they had more flexibility within their overall staffing.”

According to the report, of the 1,708 faculty (excluding medicine) whose pay increases lagged behind the 4.1 percent CPI-U rate, 51 received less than the 2.5 percent maintenance increase designated for satisfactory performance.While the implication is that those employees’ performance was not satisfactory, Pack noted that units can make exceptions and give less than 2.5 percent even when performance is satisfactory.

BPC pro tem member Philip Wion said, “The salary pool was 4 percent; the inflation rate, 4.1 percent, which is just about the same. Overall, people did better than inflation, which hasn’t been true in many recent years. That’s encouraging. On the other hand, of the people who got at least 2.5 percent, 942 got less than the inflation rate. That’s not insignificant, it’s more than half of the total of 1,708 outside of medicine. The salary policy says if you perform satisfactorily, you should get a raise at least equal to inflation. So that’s still a concern.”

Pack responded that the Provost’s office does examine the figures, especially at the extreme ends.

“We do look at how many got raises under 2 percent and how many over 10 percent. Salaries are supposed to represent variability in performance, as well as equity issues. But the decisions are made at the unit level, and it would be an inappropriate intrusion into the evaluation process [for the administration] to review every salary decision.”

For FY09 Pitt is paying out a total of $165.2 million in salary for full-time continuing faculty, a 5.2 percent increase over the FY 2008 total ($157 million).

More than half of the 1,851 continuing faculty (1,030) saw raises in the 2.5-4.09 percent range.

Of those whose pay was increased at or above the CPI-U 4.1 percent rate, 477 received a raise in the 4.1-7.49 percent range; 119 in the 7.5-9.99 percent range, and 163 in the 10 percent or above range.

The 5.3 percent increase in average individual faculty pay was higher than last year’s 4.8 percent increase, although last year’s inflation rate of 2.5 percent was lower.

Faculty members excluded from the totals in this year’s report were those who were employed at Pitt in October 2007 but not in October 2008; those hired after October 2008; those whose contract base changed (from 12-month to 9-month or vice versa, for example); those on leave of absence without pay in October 2007, October 2008 or both; those who went from full- to part-time or vice versa; academic administrators at the dean’s level or above; visiting faculty; faculty who changed responsibility centers, and those faculty whose salary was reduced.

In response to a question about the last category of excluded faculty, Cindy Roberts of Management Information and Analysis, who prepared the report, said, “In many cases it may be that a faculty member had a decrease in effort, or some other unusual issue. There were very few, if any, in the last category.”

She noted that the report presented annually to BPC always has excluded those faculty with a negative change in salary.

According to the report, Pitt had a total of 2,262 full-time continuing faculty (including medicine). The 1,851 continuing faculty members covered in the salary increase report represent 81.8 percent of Pitt’s overall full-time faculty roster.

(For more information on the Management Information and Analysis report, “Analysis of Salary Increases for Full-time Continuing Faculty FY 2008 to FY 2009, contact the office at 412/624-6767 or

BPC plans to discuss a second report, “Mean and Median Salaries of Full-Time Employees FY 2008” at a future meeting, but the report’s data were released at the March 27 meeting. The University Times expects to cover the report in the April 16 issue.

BPC members said they may forgo making their annual confidential salary recommendations to the chancellor in light of the recent announcement that there will be no increase salary increases for fiscal year 2010. (See March 5 University Times.)

—Peter Hart

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