November 25, 2020

Faculty pursues equity survey to ensure fair pay

The Faculty Senate is working with Provost and Senior Vice President Julian Schuster to work out details on a proposed salary equity analysis for Webster University faculty members. The equity study was first proposed in a Faculty Senate meeting in November and then again this month. The Faculty Senate is now working with Schuster to define the word “equity” in order to determine the parameters of the study.

“The goal is always to help Webster,” Faculty Senate President Ralph Olliges said. “We’re going to strive for fairness.” Olliges said the conflict on the definition of equity centers around deciding if the term exclusively includes gender equity, or other types of salary equity. The proposed study was already sent to Schuster once and returned to clarify the definition. Olliges said the study will move forward when terminology can be agreed upon.

In a different proposition from March 2010, the women’s studies department sought a study that would evaluate items including salary distributions by sex, race, rank, years of service, discipline, department and school/college. Danielle MacCartney, head of women’s studies, requested representation by the women’s studies department in the current equity analysis proposal, but has not yet received a response. MacCartney said, based on labor market research she has seen, it would be, “easy to assume,” there are gender equity issues at Webster, but no one can know for sure until a more in-depth study is done.

“There’s always a need for knowledge,” MacCartney said. “Even if the answer to the question is that everything is fine, there’s always a need to ask the question. We shouldn’t be afraid of the truth.”

Olliges could not yet comment on what the equity study would entail, but said Faculty Senate would not be working to make the study happen if there was not a need for it on campus. Olliges said he hopes the study will be worked out and conducted before the end of the year. He said the definition of equity will be a major topic of discussion at the Faculty Senate meeting Thursday, March 1. Olliges said the Faculty Senate and the provost are, “committed to working together.” MacCartney said whatever the outcome of the future study, she feels confident the administration will deal with the results appropriately.

“My experience with the current administration is that they’re very responsive and very keen to make sure that Webster is putting its best foot forward,” MacCartney said. “I believe that if a study found any kind of inequity, that the administration would work quickly to address it.”

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