September 19, 2019

Faculty salary adjustments considered

Webster University administration is considering adjustments to faculty salaries that, if implemented, would increase the salaries of 39 percent of the faculty at a total cost of $386,400.
Webster hired private consultant Mercer to analyze salaries from 53 comparable universities to determine a market average to use as a benchmark. Using these numbers and specific guidelines, Mercer provided salary adjustment suggestions that would make Webster’s pay more competitive.
During a faculty meeting Monday afternoon, faculty members raised issues with the approach the university is taking with the faculty salary problem.
“It’s going to take a while to gather the data and implement these findings,” said President Elizabeth Stroble. “This is going to be a multi-year process.”
As the proposed plan currently stands, the College of Arts and Sciences would receive the largest total increase in dollars for salaries at $164,100, while the School of Communications would receive the largest percent in salary increase at six percent.  The average percent of salary increase for those faculty members eligible for a raise is eight percent.
In comparison with the peer schools, the School of Fine Arts was most on par with the salaries of other school’s departments, while the George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology fell the furthest behind.
“We are identifying where there are some salary gaps based on the findings, and this is a plan for implementing adjustments,” said Scott Cook, senior consultant and project manager of Mercer.
The fundamental issue being addressed now is bringing professors’ salaries to a level that meets economic demands.
“We will at least provide a salary pool that will cover cost of living increases,” Stroble said.
Provost Julian Schuster said the first problem to be addressed is lagging salaries, and the other issues raised will need to be addressed when salaries have first been increased.
“Members of this university cannot be paid less than their colleagues at comparable universities,” Schuster said.
An alternative approach discussed by faculty was equity between departments, so professors in different departments would receive relatively equal pay.
“The fact that we do not have equal pay for equal work is demoralizing,” said Victoria McMullen, an associate professor in the School of Education.
Stroble quoted the rising cost of living and previous problems the university has had with inequity between faculty and executive pay as motivating reasons for the pay adjustment. The changes must be approved by the Board of Trustees before they can take effect.  After faculty salaries have been addressed, staff and adjunct salaries will be considered.
“The next thing will be adjuncts, because I know that that’s a pressing issue,” Stroble said.

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