Webster University faculty salary increases will change to a one percent merit based raise system — instead of the evenly distributed, non-merit based system in place now. The change was approved by a vote of 44 to 12, with six abstaining, on Wednesday April 24. These changes will take effect in the 2013-14 academic year.
The change to merit based raises was prompted by pressure from Webster’s Board of Trustees, according to Jeff Carter, chair of the Salary and Fringe Benefit Committee.
“We have been told that the board is only going to support merit (based salary increases) and is no longer supporting across the board (salary increases),” Carter said.
Webster has not yet decided on a method to judge the merit of faculty. Julian Schuster, provost and senior vice president, proposed to meet with faculty to determine how pay raises will be measured.
“I do not know today, and what I’m asking is, let’s sit down and talk about how to measure that (merit),” Schuster said. “The same way you measure when somebody is ready to be an associate professor, the same way we measure when faculty gets a research grant. There are numerous ways we can measure that.”
A few faculty members expressed concern about changing to performance based pay raises. Some of which dealt with dividing the community, competition among professors and feelings of insecurity.
Schuster believes moving to merit based pay will not be divisive. He said professors who do good work would be rewarded for their efforts, rather than receiving the same pay increase as others who may not work as hard.
“Nothing is more divisive in my opinion than if different efforts yield the same results,” Schuster said.
Terri Reilly, adjunct professor in the communications and journalism department, said she is concerned about moving to a merit based system. Reilly is afraid her hard work has gone unnoticed for years, and will continue to go unnoticed.
“I’m shaken to my core at something the provost (Schuster) just said.” Reilly said, referring to the lack of a plan in evaluating merit based salary raises. “If we’re talking about merit pay for full time faculty and possibly potentially moving toward merit pay, I think it’s a problem that I’ve never been evaluated. There’s no body of evidence that states what I’ve done — what I’ve contributed — except on my curriculum vitae and possibly in the minds of at least two people in my department, so I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I’m not an aberration. I don’t know, I want to be told that I’m wrong, but I don’t think that system exists here. If it does, its been done in secret.”
Schuster said merit based salary increases offer a solution to the problem Reilly raised. The changes will require that faculty and staff be evaluated in order to determine raises and give informative feedback about their performance.
“No one is going to create a situation that is unjust and creates more problems than solutions,” Schuster said.