December 14, 2018

New faculty pay system passed

Webster University faculty have voted to enact a new pay-for-performance system that will be “fully functional” by January 2015.

The faculty senate held an assembly meeting to present a new pay-for-performance model for faculty members in the East Academic Building on April 22. Presented by faculty senate Vice President Marty Smith, the talk laid out a basic outline of the 12-page proposal.

During the presentation, Smith said it was announced in the spring 2013 semester that faculty members would no longer receive across-the-board or cost-of-living raises. Smith saidProvost Julian Schuster wanted faculty to be involved in the creation of this change.

“Provost Schuster indicated that he wanted this performance-pay model faculty-lead, so the senate took upon them to develop the draft mode,” Smith said.

To receive a raise, a faculty member must now sit down with their the relevant department chair and evaluate his or her performance. Faculty performance will be judged on three categories: teaching and advising, professional development and service to the department. Faculty members are asked to propose “relevant weighting” of each area in terms of percentages.

The department chair will then award points in each category. If work is considered satisfactory, the faculty member is awarded two points. Unsatisfactory work is given one point. The points will then be multiplied by each respective percentage, and the department chair will compute an average score. If the average score comes out to 1.85 or higher, the faculty member will then be given a proportionate raise.

Smith said the meeting would only be used to discuss raises for satisfactory work, not extraordinary work.

“Right now, today, what we are talking about is satisfactory performance only. The extraordinary merit portion of this has even been looked at and that will be looked at by the senate next fall of 2014,” Smith said.

One faculty member asked if the pay given for satisfactory work would only be allowed for a certain number of faculty members in the department.

“Provost has assured us that, no, there isn’t a quota for who is doing satisfactory work. The presumption is that we want everyone to do satisfactory work,” Williams said.

Smith said the proposal’s creation began in the fall 2013 semester with the senate researching other pay-for-performance models at different universities. The senate also held several meetings with faculty throughout the academic year and received feedback. The draft went through “multiple iterations,” Smith said.

The vice president also said the proposal was taken for more feedback by Senate President Gwyneth Williams.

“Gwyneth went out, met with deans, council of chairs, received more feedback, also met with chief of human resources, chief financial officer, legal counsel for the university was also consulted and received more feedback. Senate voted and approved the draft that was presented to the faculty,” Smith said.

But during the open debate section of the meeting, faculty members had problems with the language of a section of the proposal.

On page four of the proposal, one sentence read, “However, faculty should understand that satisfactory rations on the compensation for (for teaching, professional development and university service) are necessary but not sufficient for approval of tenure.”

Faculty members debated and expressed their disapproval for the language of “necessary but not sufficient.”

The faculty senate moved to strike the sentence to amend, which was passed.

Although the new system was voted in by faculty members, Assistant Professor Remy Cross said he was doubtful of the new system and thought there should have been more time allowed for faculty to read the proposal.

“This does not seem to be based (on merit). There have been a lot of studies that have been done and that it does what it is reported to do, which is motivating work efficiency. I am skeptical about that,” Cross said. “I also felt this proposal has been rushed without proper deliberation. A lot of people had not read through it in detail.”

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