The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life

Updated compensation percentiles

April 13th, 2019

Back in February, I calculated an update to the Category IIB percentiles we used to publish in our Factbook. That post is here.

The AAUP has now posted data for the 2018-19 academic year. This year includes both the recent rounds of raises in January 2017 (in effect for the last half of 2016-17, although I don’t think that our AAUP salary reporting included the raises until 2017-18) and August 2018 (in effect presumably for the 2018-19 reporting).

I’ve updated each graph I made for the earlier post. Those are below, with interpretation:

Here are my interpretations of the additional year of data. Please see the earlier post for a more complete analysis.

  • Of the four ranks at Guilford tracked here (heavy solid lines), all showed a modest increase in 2018.
  • Nationally, the AAUP median for Category IIB schools increased more than Guilford’s raises for Associate and Assistant, which means we lost some ground against the median of our peer group at those ranks. This is not a surprise given the small size of our raise pool last year.
  • Nationally, the AAUP median for Category IIB schools increased less than Guilford’s raises for Full and Instructor, which means we gained ground against the median of our peer group at those ranks.
  • For Instructors, our reported modest increase in salary contrasted with the drop in the national IIB median Instructor salaries.
  • For Full Professors, our reported increase in salary coming in slightly stronger than the increase in the median may have to do with the large gaps full professors had from their targets, which meant they may have gotten more of the raise pool under our formula than others who were closer – i.e., we’re still pretty far behind our peers, but we filled in a little of the gap. I suppose we could have had fewer retirements or departures than other schools, also – we lost so many folks in 2016-17 that we have fewer left to lose now, which might have elevated our numbers somewhat relative to others. This is all speculation, though.
  • Fundamentally, in 2018-19, we appear to have more or less kept pace with other IIB schools in terms of dollars, but we did not make progress on closing our sizable gaps with them except at Instructor rank, which we only did because of a national decline in Instructor pay. Though not the best outcome, this is better than period from 2010-2016, when we stagnated or even lost ground in real dollars (this was even worse if you take inflation into account, which was a total of about 10% over that period).

Here is the impact on our percentiles compared to other IIB schools:

Remember that these percentiles are tracking a different thing from the dollar values above. The percentiles are only about our ranking relative to other similar schools, while the first graph is raw dollars.

Here are my interpretations of the additional year of data on percentiles. Please see the earlier post for a more complete analysis of the history.

  • At all ranks except instructor, we lost ground in terms of percentiles.
  • This was most pronounced at Assistant rank, which grew more strongly nationally than other ranks.
  • That means that, unlike 2017-18, when we made significant upward progress in our ranking, other schools passed us, although this didn’t wipe out all of the progress we made with the January 2017 raises.
  • We are now back to similar percentiles from 2013, when we were already in the midst of our very steep decline, as opposed to our heyday in 2008-09, when we were still well below where we’d set our goals at the time but (unbeknownst to us) at easily the highest level we’d experience for the next decade.
  • If we reach the stated goal of our compensation plan, we will be up near the 50th percentile for IIB, which is close to both the original Compensation Plan peer group of 46 schools and to the revised peer group of ~350 schools proposed this year.

Here are the raw numbers and last year’s percentage change in table form.

Guilford 2017-18 2018-19 Percent  change
Full  $    74,700  $    76,200 2.0%
Assoc  $    60,000  $    60,500 0.8%
Asst  $    56,200  $    56,400 0.4%
Inst  $    46,300  $    47,100 1.7%
IIB Medians 2017-18 2018-19 Percent  change
Full  $    87,300  $    87,800 0.6%
Assoc  $    71,300  $    72,100 1.1%
Asst  $    61,200  $    62,300 1.8%
Inst  $    53,500  $    52,500 -1.9%

 

We need to have raises at least as big as last year’s not to lose ground. If we want to regain some of what we’ve lost, or even (heaven help us) reach our stated goal, we’ll need to have raises that average more like 4-5%.

Not all of that needs to come from new revenue. Every year we have some more senior, more highly compensated folks retire, and if they’re replaced, they are usually replaced with younger, lower-compensated folks, which creates room for raises for remaining faculty without adding to the overall budget.

That’s how I see it. Let me know if you have questions.

Looking back at Guilford faculty salaries

February 20th, 2019

I spent some time Tuesday collecting some numbers and looking back at Guilford salaries. My goal was to recreate some of the numbers that Guilford used to report in its annual Factbook. That Factbook no longer exists, as far as I can tell, and the reporting of salaries compared to standards fizzled out in about 2013. So, it’s been a while since we had a comparison like what we used to have.

The target group we used to use for salary comparisons was Category IIB, a classification that includes institutions that grant primarily baccalaureate degrees. Guilford far exceeds the minimum degree requirements for this category and is nowhere near the postbaccalaureate degree requirements for Category IIA, even with our new Master’s program, so it’s clearly where we belong. More on these categories is available here.

I collected and processed the last seven years of the AAUP Annual Survey, which collects reports from most higher education institutions and produces an annual report. These reports are here. I selected only the Category IIB institutions in these reports. Guilford consistently reports to the AAUP like every good institution should.

I also have a record of many years of Guilford’s self-reported salaries and comparative percentiles, which I collected from the Factbooks back when they were available. I have those covering the years 2007/8 to 2013/14. These included faculty salaries at different ranks (also reported to AAUP) and a calculation of percentiles compared to the Category IIB pool. These reports also included percentiles for two categories of staff – administrative and support staff. I don’t have the data to extend these staff reports to today, and I’m not sure what data sets were used to created the reported statistics.

This first graph shows faculty salaries at four different ranks (indicated by colors), for Guilford (heavy dashed and solid lines) and AAUP Category IIB (thin dotted lines).

The dashed lines and the solid lines (representing Guilford salaries) overlap for three years, 2011-2013. As you can see, even though one was reported by Institutional Research and the other produced by me, they agree very closely, except for one blip in assistant professors in 2012. That gives me confidence that I’m doing this mostly right.

Here are insights I draw from these data sets:

  • Guilford’s faculty salaries rose from 2007-2009, then stagnated or dropped from 2007-2016. At the higher ranks, average salaries in unadjusted dollars dropped, probably due to retirements coupled with very limited raises. If we scaled salaries to cost-of-living, this drop would be even more severe, as there was a mostly consistent inflation rate of 1-3% during this time.
  • Probably in response to new hiring at nearer-to-market salaries, associate professors narrowed their gap with higher ranks as time went on.
  • The raises in the middle of the 2016-17 year are clear at the right side of the graph. The smaller summer 2018 raises are not represented in the time range covered.
  • During the period of salary stagnation, our Category IIB peers showed consistent growth in median salaries at all ranks.
  • The January 2017 raises (at least as represented here), though much bigger than in recent years, did fairly little to close the widening gap between Guilford and peer institutions, as they were only a bit higher than the overall Category IIB increase.

I also calculated percentiles, which I can also compare to past reported data. Those calculations are shown here:Guilford salary percentiles

 

The values for the two categories of staff are no longer reported, so they only extend to 2013. Again, there is mostly agreement between my numbers (covering 2011-2017) and the Factbook numbers (2007-2013) where they overlap, except for one year of assistant professor numbers.

Some observations from these data sets:

  • As one would expect from the dollar values shown in the first graph, our percent rank dropped at all faculty ranks.
  • Instructors, who were nearly at the Category IIB median in 2011, showed the greatest decline in percentile, although not the lowest overall percentile.
  • Associate professors hit bottom the hardest, reaching a low-water mark of 13th percentile in 2016-17. For reference, here are the five schools on either side of us on a ranked list of IIB associate professor salaries that year:
    • Saint Joseph’s College
      Baker University
      College of Southern Nevada
      Lewis-Clark State College
      Bethel College
      Guilford College
      University of Montana-Western
      Huntington University
      Dakota Wesleyan University
      Milligan College
      Ouachita Baptist University
  • Staff percentiles were nearly always higher than faculty percentiles when reported. This is likely due to several factors, such as (1) stronger market pressure for hiring new staff closer to peer salaries, (2) much higher rates of turnover, such that staff positions reset to market more frequently than faculty positions, because faculty tend to be much less mobile, especially following tenure.
  • Even with these structural factors, it seems likely that institutional leadership, budgeting, prioritization, and decision-making played a role in the growing disparity between the groups. My guess is that the percentiles for staff declined with faculty, but that they stayed stronger for the staff groups than faculty groups during the lean years. We lost more staff members than faculty due to layoffs during this time, but the reported salary numbers are an average that shouldn’t change with group size alone. I can’t think of a compelling reason why the average staff salaries and their percentiles would decline much even with the layoffs, as the layoffs were not focused among highly paid indiviuals.
  • Again, the raises in January 2017 provided a significant boost to faculty, but not enough to erase the previous eight years of wage stagnation and decline.
  • There were raises in August 2018 also, but those raises were small, not much more than inflation, and my guess is they would lead us to lose ground to our Category IIB peers during the 2018-19 year, as they likely grew more than we did. It will be interesting to see the 2018-19 numbers to see how it plays out.

One caveat – there was a very significant number of retirements (and, sadly, deaths) among senior faculty in the 2016-17 academic year – without looking it up, I think it was 8-10 people. By itself, that would likely be big enough to affect the average numbers for Guilford full professors, as would any year with a hiring freeze for assistant professors, but without specific numbers I can’t determine the magnitude. Obviously transitions and promotions at other ranks would have an impact as well.

From Rob: Idea for moving forward

February 8th, 2018

Rob Whitnell sent the following to me and said I could post it here if I thought it would be helpful. I do, so I am.  The rest of this is Rob’s words.

Somewhere deep into the multi-year process that led to the 1998 curriculum, Jeff Jeske started leading the task force focused on curriculum revision. In that role, one of the first things he did was make appointments with every single faculty member for a one-on-one meeting. As I remember it, he simply wanted to hear what each of us had to say, what we were excited and concerned about, what we would hope happen. And Jeff just listened. It clearly didn’t eliminate the tensions of that process, as anyone who went through it can tell you. But I’d like to think that it put all of us on a more equal footing, that maybe someone really was hearing what we had to say.

In that spirit, and somewhat related to my comments at Wednesday’s forum, maybe it’s time to do something similar. Each and every faculty member should have the chance to say what they want to say, face-to-face to someone whose task is to listen and record and ask for clarification, not to argue or discuss or proselytize. These conversations shouldn’t happen at the departmental level, and not through surveys or making posts. Individuals need to be able to speak freely in a way that they can trust their words won’t be used against them.

I don’t know how to make the logistics of that work. But here are some questions (and I’m sure there are others). Answers to questions like these, from each faculty member, comfortable that they can speak freely, could help us make the case for what can and cannot work as we’re pushed toward a new curriculum in a 12/3 calendar.

  • What information do you need to make these changes happen?
  • What resources would you need? Time, money, course releases (with replacement faculty), staff support, other kinds of tangible or intangible support?
  • What must remain available for your current students so that they can finish under the catalog they came in under?
  • What important elements of your program (any program you participate in) would you no longer be available to do in the new curriculum under 12/3?
  • What new great things will you be able to do if you get the support you need?
  • What elements of Guilford College can we least afford to lose in going forward with a new curriculum under 12/3?

And these questions (or similar ones) should not be asked only of faculty, but of Suzanne, Melissa, Kelly, Todd, Krishauna, Craig, Alfred, Chuck, James, Daniel, and the director of every other program that interacts directly with students.

If we want to understand resources/budget are really needed, or learn what important elements of the Guilford College we would have to lose in order to do 12/3, or find links among faculty that we didn’t know were present, or have the ability to make a strong case against 12/3 if that’s what is indicated, then information from all of us is absolutely necessary.

And the sooner the better.

From Vance: Request for comments from those in support of calendar change

February 3rd, 2018

Vance Ricks sent me an e-mail looking for ways to provide a discussion space for those who support and are excited about the 12-3 change. We agreed that a Moon Room post might be a good place to help facilitate that discussion. He wrote up the following and asked me to post it for him. Please feel free to comment here.

“Dear colleagues,

There ARE some faculty (and staff) who want and like the adoption of a 12-3 calendar. I’m writing to ask and encourage them to speak up — not just to each other, but also in public venues such as this one. To me, the public conversations here and in many faculty gatherings have felt dominated by expressions of skepticism about (or at best lukewarm support for) that adoption. That isn’t a criticism! But it means that I think I’m getting a distorted picture of the landscape of campus opinions and of what it’ll take to discern or build some kind of consensus.

Just to be clear, I should explain that I’m asking specifically about support for the adoption of the calendar itself — not about support for the path that led us to this point, if we can (for the sake of discussion) pull those things apart. Why do you like it? What excites you about it? And by that, I’m asking: is it support specifically for the 12-3 calendar, or for a distinct alternative to our current one (such as the 8-8 that Thom proposed, or the Colorado College model, or…)? Is it support for the 12-3 calendar as a package? Is it support for what could occur during the “3” part of it, separable from liking the “12” part of it? Is it support for it on principle (e.g., even if it did nothing to attract or retain more students than we have now, we should still do it because of its other advantages over the status quo)?

From where I sit, the plan to adopt a 12-3 calendar seems to have the weight of presidential, administrative, and trustee support behind it. So (again from where I sit), I really don’t think that anyone ought to feel that they’re “unsafe” to express their own support for that plan. And I’m asking a genuine question, not trying to set anyone up for a fight.

-Vance”

Challenges with staffing courses under a 12-3 model

February 3rd, 2018

Here’s another logistical issue we’ll need to deal with if we move forward with the 12-3 schedule. It’s a different kind of challenge to staff a three-week course than it is a 15-week course, and with the current low number (at least in recent history) of tenured and tenure-track faculty, it’s likely we’ll need to lean hard on temporary faculty to make a three-week term work. The graph below was part of an analysis I sent to the senior team back in November. I never received a response to that message, although I’ve talked with Frank about parts of it since.

The blue line is just math, 1500 students spread across a variable number of courses. At the right side of the chart, it approaches one class with 1500 students. At the left side, it approaches 1500 classes with one student each. In the area shown, we’re between 150 classes with 10 students each and 37.5 classes with 40 students each. Everywhere on the line, courses times students multiplies out to 1500 total students.

For an intensive semester to work, we are mathematically obligated to be somewhere on the curved blue line, or students won’t be able to graduate in four years/eight semesters (i.e. without summer school or a fifth year). If we find internships or non-Guilford study away opportunities in the 3-week term for 10% of our students (setting aside the cost of administering internships and the potential lost tuition revenue if students took non-Guilford off-campus courses), we might be able to swing the dotted orange line, but that doesn’t change the math much.

The yellow horizontal line reflects the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty we have now, which is around 80. However, in any given year, some of those are on study leave, some are leading study abroad, some are taking family or medical leave, and some have course releases for other work. Also, with our 3-3 teaching load, in a four-course 12/3 setup, we can only count on 75% of faculty to be teaching during the 3-week term, because some faculty will do their three course load as three 12-week courses.

So, we have, at best, tenured and tenure-track faculty able to teach somewhere near the horizontal green line. Everything above the green line will have to be taught through faculty with temporary appointments or with overloads. We may not even have tenured and tenure-track faculty to match the green line, because some faculty meet their load with a combination of lecture and lab courses and won’t have space in their schedule to do a 3-week intensive class, and it’s possible that more tenured and tenure-track faculty may get caught up teaching a full load in the 12-week section to meet departmental or general education needs rather than doing 3-week courses.

The green line crosses the blue line at about an average class size of 28. Most faculty, when they talk about a potential 3-week intensive class, talk about project-based courses, travel courses, special topics, or research opportunities that might engage 5-15 students, like what we saw in January Term, which is shown with the light blue dot. That kind of class is the size that we keep hearing anecdotes about, from Hiram, from Culver-Stockton, and from others who wax poetic about the opportunities of a three-week term. Nobody is talking about the joys and radical benefits of managing a 40-student on-campus intensive course, but for every 10-person class we offer, we’ll have to hire somebody to teach the other 18 students, or add them to another class. The 3-week term just can’t resemble Jan Term. The classes will have to be significantly larger.

So, we either need to have 3-week classes that average 28 students, or we need to add a lot of temporary faculty to the mix. If we go the latter route, I can see a few options to address this math problem, none of which look great. If we want to support a significant number of 3-week courses with 10-15 students, we could:

  1. Have tenured and tenure-track faculty stretch to cover more of these classes after teaching a full semester load during the 12-week, compensated by Guilford’s modest overload pay.
  2. Hire 50-100 full-time adjuncts for a 3-week term to meet student needs. We have about 50 FTE of non-tenure-track faculty now, but more than half of those (and thus well more than half of the people involved) are part time. The 3-week term is supposed to be full-time work.
  3. Change our teaching load to 4-4, mandating the 3-week term for nearly everyone
  4. Create huge (70-120 student) megacourses or other experiences to balance out the small ones.
  5. Hire more tenured and tenure-track faculty

Option 1 is a lot of work. Remember that the 12-week courses, if we do them in a principled and accreditable way, have just as much student contact, just as much graded work, just as much student interaction as a 15-week course. They’re meeting more often per week, for longer classes, with more frequent or longer assignments. That leaves less faculty time for grading, for planning, for preparation, for meeting community partners, and for rounding up resources, and also for service work, research, or professional development and growth. Somebody doing a 3-course load in 12 weeks ought to be way more frantic and burnt out than during a 15-week semester. If three courses over 15 weeks is a 40-hour-per-week job, then doing the same in 12 weeks is 50 hours a week. We’d then be asking faculty to take on an additional full-time 3-week experience after twelve consecutive weeks of overtime.

Options 1 and 2 are expensive. If we pay $4000 per class, either to adjunct faculty or as overload pay for tenured and tenure-track faculty, and we need 50-100 extra classes, then we are spending $200,000-$400,000 for every intensive semester. Some of that we already spend, because we already have temporary faculty and overloads, but given the numbers of courses required, a good chunk of that is new money that we’ll have to find somewhere.

Option 2 also presumes we can find 50-100 qualified instructors in the local job market who are willing or able to take on 3-week full-time jobs which overlap a regular semester period. Some of those folks would presumably be with us for the 12-week and extend to the 3-week, but not all of them would, and even then, there aren’t enough. Frank assures me this kind of recruiting is possible. Even granting that, many of those instructors would not have the benefit of the faculty development work in collaborative learning that we’ll undertake along with this initiative, and those who show up just for a three-week term will likely not have a long-term engagement with our institution and with our majors and programs. Also, if we do this, we would be moving towards, or past, 50% of these showcase courses taught by temporary faculty, which is a far higher percentage than during the regular term and which has associated management, recruiting, and oversight challenges. It also extends Guilford’s reliance on the more exploitative and poorly compensated adjunct faculty market, which I think is a bad thing.

Option 3 is awful, and radically redefines the nature of faculty work at Guilford. If that’s on the table, we should have just done it under the old model and reaped the savings there. It would be better to take on that challenge under a regular model that we know rather than adding that additional burden to a massively disruptive new semester structure, new curriculum, and new pedagogical focus.

Option 4 is a real challenge. It’s hard to imagine what huge courses look like, or how they’d be administered or taught, or how the teachers would be compensated, or how students in such a large course would get the one-on-one contact and guidance we say is our strength and our goal for this program.

Option 5 is the most principled way to do this, with the best likely outcomes, but given that this all is happening in the midst of a budget deficit, I think there’s zero chance it will happen until and unless (and most likely after) the promised enrollment boom occurs.

There may be other options here that I haven’t thought of. I would imagine that each comes with its own challenges. We could also combine these or other approaches. But the fundamental problem here is a mathematical one, and I don’t know the solution.

UPDATE:

Here’s an updated version of the graph that fixes the class sizes and numbers for January term, adds earlier January terms, and explicitly includes current numbers of full-time non-tenure-track faculty, assuming that all would teach a three-course load in a 12/3 semester. This is in response to Rob Whitnell’s comment below. Click to make it bigger.

 

 

 

Curriculum Revision, 1966

January 28th, 2018

Gwen Gosney-Erickson, college archivist, forwarded me these minutes from 1966, when the college was facing rapid change and a call to revise their curriculum. They’re a fascinating look at a parallel time in Guilford’s history fifty years ago.

1966FacultyMinute

I asked for a little more context, and Gwen wrote:

This was a massive overhaul transforming from a curriculum that had basically existing for over 30 years. It’s when Guilford established a required interdisciplinary first year course and a IDS capstone. The transformation sought to be a bold articulation of Guilford moving from a stereotypical midcentury model to an innovative one embracing interdisciplinary and non-Western perspectives. At the same time, Guilford was renovating outdated dormitories and reinvigorating the faculty with development opportunities made possible with Title III grant funds and new recruitment. Some of the things put into motion in 1966 ended up being those that remained to this day (even through the 1998 revisions). You might want to ask Cyril how it was for him as he was brought in to develop Guilford’s Geology department at this time.

Curriculum ideas from Kami

January 16th, 2018

Note: Kami Rowan initially posted this as a comment to the last faculty meeting page, but she asked me to post it as a full message.

Friends, given Dave’s message this evening about the need to take action that is bolder, more visible, more immediate and more sustainable, several faculty have begun to compile a list of steps we believe would meet the challenge put before us. This is not a moment that is unclear to us: instead, we know we must act with courage and conviction to be the college we know we must become. We believe our faculty can lead the college and we wish to begin soliciting new bolder ideas from the experience and passion we bring to our work.

To this end, we wish to begin the next step in our work by sharing the list below. These are even bolder ideas, said in small groups but that we believe must move from the fringe to the center of our work.

1. No Grades
Embracing a staged and flexible sense of success where students have a role in determining and defining their own success

2. Year-around college to promote a three-year degree
Providing accelerated paths for our best-prepared students and additional opportunities for our least-prepared students to succeed. This commitment signals that Guilford College is here year-around for any student willing to do the work. Such a year-around college can structure the schedule, calendar and experiences to support the real-world engagement that begins together (first-year) and ends with a culminating project.

3. Second Major based in real world problem and student passion (“Q”)
Every student’s real-world project is just as important as anything else at Guilford. While students must take 30 credit hours of general education learning and a disciplinary major, we believe a student project reflecting a passion for a real-world problem through design thinking must represent a pillar of this new experience. This project, over three years, should be the equivalent of a second major and be focused on engagement both on- and off-campus. This second major should have a unique label and name, perhaps a student’s “Q”.

4. Every First Year student has an immersive study away or abroad year one.
Every first year student would have an opportunity to have a deep and meaningful experience during some form of immersive study their first semester or year.

5. Everyone in our community supports each other.
From Day One, each student will be supported by a student doing a signature work in the final year at Guilford. This student will be a peer adviser for understanding the user experience for developing one’s Q project in the years ahead. As our first-year student passes through the first two semesters at Guilford, this senior will help provide valuable one-on-one coaching and support, regardless of major or project, given the common user experience training.

Faculty and Staff Guilford Edge discussion area

November 29th, 2017

Please feel free to discuss the Guilford Edge proposal and its various parts here.

You may post anonymously if you wish. Comments from anonymous and first-time posters will be held by the site software moderation until I can approve them.

The Guilford Edge website is here.

Feedback collected by the Edge team about the changes to the semester calendar and weekly schedule is here.

The faculty Learning Collaboratively folder is here, the index with background information and proposals is here, and the working list of ideas prepared for the December 6 faculty meeting is here.

The first draft of a faculty plan for the Learning Collaboratively proposal, prepared by Clerk’s Committee, based on discussion at the December 6 meeting, is here.

The second draft of a faculty plan for the Learning Collaboratively proposal, containing updates after the December 15 faculty meeting, is here.

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A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life