In January 2011, Georgetown professors will likely see a 1.5 percent increase in their salaries as part of the new five-year faculty salary plan proposed by the Main Campus Planning Committee in early October. The plan’s enactment is dependent on approval from the Provost and the Board of Directors.
Last spring, the Main Campus Planning Committee, which reports to the Provost and Board of Directors, proposed no salary increases for faculty and staff for fiscal year 2011.
The proposed 1.5 percent increase will be the first wage increase since a partial increase in January 2010. That partial increase was less than the Univeristy’s previous commitment of a 2.5 percent target rate above inflation. In January 2009, President DeGioia announced that the target, set in 2008, would not be met due to the the financial crisis.
“I think the general feeling is in the current climate, people were not expecting an increase in January,” Professor Robert Cumby said. Cumby and Faculty Senate President Wayne Davis presented the new plan to the Main Campus Planning Committee earlier this semester. ”Given the times, people are pretty pleased that the University is making a commitment to pay competitive salaries.”
Provost James O’Donnell and the Board of Directors must approve the five-year salary plan for fiscal years 2012 to 2016, before it takes effect. Provost O’Donnell said they will do so “in a very small number of weeks.”
The plan does not make any commitments to a target rate above inflation, but it does provide salary increases to promoted professors, and establishes a new system to distribute merit-based increases for scholarship.
Associate Professor of Theology Julia Lamm said that she and other professors remain skeptical about how the University will determine merit-based increases.
“Most faculty aren’t thrilled about the merit process,” Lamm said. “It stresses quantity and most people in most departments don’t want to get into the battle of quantity of scholarship.”
Lamm said that professors in certain subfields might not release as much work as others, and that she is worried that the University’s process is insufficient at judging the quality of that work.
O’Donnell said he was confident that the new plan adequately addresses those concerns with a newly established faculty committee to review each department’s merit-based increases. In the past, each department made merit-based reward decisions independently.
“Are you pushing for quality? Are you pushing for quantity? You’d like a lot of both as a matter of fact, “O’Donnell said. “So how do you judge that somebody is doing the best work they’re capable of doing? It finally comes down to almost a personal judgment case by case. That’s one reason why we have a faculty-driven process.”
Lamm, who has been teaching at Georgetown since 1989, said that the plan still does not adequately address the issue of salary compression for longer serving faculty members. She said that base salaries in the past were significantly lower than they are currently, but longer serving faculty members still receive the same incremental increases as more recent hires—including boosts in salary from promotions or merit-based increases.
“I don’t want to fault my faculty colleagues because they have limited funds,” Lamm said. “The question really has to be put to the higher administration and how they allocate money.”
O’Donnell said that the current plan aims to strike a balance between addressing salary compression and the average salary. He said in the long run, returning to an above-inflation rate increase will ensure that Georgetown attracts the best faculty in the nation.
“We think having the best faculty is the single most important thing we do,” O’Donnell said.