The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life

Faculty compensation

September 24th, 2019

I was part of a meeting on Friday with several members of college leadership, our compensation consultant Christine Riley, Jim Hood, and Natalya Shelkova (from compensation committee).

In that meeting, we discussed whether the college has been using the wrong number for setting faculty salary targets over the past three years. We know that in 2018 and 2019, and maybe in 2017, the college used the median of individual salaries of professors at our peer institutions rather than what our policy calls for, which is the median of mean faculty salaries at our peer institutions. Natalya, Jim, and I were in agreement that the median of individual salaries is both (a) not the number specified in the policy, (b) not a number that works in our target formula, and (c) a number that tends to be significantly lower than the number specified in the policy, especially for full professors. I have confirmed this gap by comparing our target salaries for this year, and the CUPA data on which they were based, with the median of peer institutional mean salaries (the number we’re supposed to be using) from AAUP. I shared that information with you around the time of the opening faculty meeting in this document.

In Friday’s meeting, Christine Riley confirmed that the intent of the policy was to use the median of institutional means salaries among our peer institutions, something that the faculty members of Compensation Committee have also confirmed.

It is clear that for each of the last three raise cycles, our salary targets at most ranks were set too low, sometimes far too low (e.g. ~$7500 for full professors in 2018). We now know that this was not merely bad data, as was cited last year, but instead it was an error in implementation. The outcome of that error has been to deny equitable raises to faculty, particularly to full professors, under the compensation policy. The money that would have gone to faculty has instead been allocated to staff, whose targets were set correctly.

I raised this issue in August 2018, immediately after the raise letters came out with very low targets for full professors. I had the magnitude of the shortfall figured out by September 2018. The college delayed in discussing this until February 2019 and then declined to take any reparative action at all. The only action it took was to change our peer group to a larger and different set of peers. Using a different peer group did not fix the error, and in July 2019, the college again set targets far too low, again without running the salary target numbers through Clerk’s Committee as indicated should be done under the policy. This review by Clerk’s has never happened in the history of the policy, despite being written into it.

In 2018, I did not know that we were asking CUPA for the wrong number. All I knew was that the targets were way too low, and I accepted that it was possible that changing the peer group might help to address what had been very inconsistent and skimpy data from CUPA for 2017 and 2018, although I still felt that the college should do something to correct for the impossibly low numbers it had used in those years.

In July 2019, Jim Hood and I reviewed the raw CUPA data in the human resources office. We discovered that the college was using not just incomplete or flawed data, but had in fact asked for entirely the wrong kind of number from CUPA. It later became clear that it had been using the wrong kind of number for at least 2018 and 2019, and perhaps also for 2017.

At the meeting on Friday, the administrators there seemed to accept that they had made these errors in implementing the salary policy for faculty. I hope they will make a public statement to that effect. After that discussion, which occupied the first half of the meeting, there was some discussion about two concerns. The first was whether the correct institutional data could be delivered by CUPA, and the second was whether using a median of means for faculty targets was fair to staff, whose targets are set based on individual medians.

The first concern, about CUPA data, is largely immaterial – if we cannot get the correct numbers from CUPA, we certainly can from AAUP, which is open-access and much more robust in reporting than is CUPA. CUPA has not served us well in any of the three raise cycles, even setting aside our asking it for the wrong numbers, because they consistently have a small minority of our peer instiutions reporting, and the numbers we’ve gotten from them have varied a great deal (unrealistically so) between years. If we can’t get CUPA to work, we can just use AAUP.

The second concern, about potential fairness questions between faculty and staff, is also immaterial, at least for the past three raise cycles. The college’s compensation committee, comprised of faculty and staff, agreed on this policy. The college published it and implemented it, but it then used incorrect numbers that significantly undercut faculty raises and compensation, three times. That is a wrong that should be righted, and I believe it to be legally actionable, although I hope we do not need to go that route.

Even if the second concern (fairness) doesn’t matter for the past three raises, it does matter for the future of the policy, because we want the faculty and staff formulas to be fair, and we want both groups of employees to reach equitable peer targets. However, I actually don’t think staff salary targets would change much if they were based on medians of institutional means rather than medians of individuals. This is because there are many, many kinds of staff positions, and most of them are unique or in very small numbers at institutions our size. Therefore, a median of individuals will be essentially the same as a median of institutional means for these positions. This is in contrast to faculty positions, where there are only four ranks we track, and they contain many faculty, who are often in those ranks for a long time, with salaries that can vary by tens of thousands of dollars at Guilford (or even by hundreds of thousands at some of our peers). I would be happy to check my prediction here if I am given the data to work with, but my sense is that there is no fairness issue in this area. Regardless, we should have followed the policy we have on the books, and we should keep following it correctly until we agree to change it. The fairness issue is, I think, a red herring at this point, given that we had a policy and didn’t follow it in a way that was already unfair.

I don’t know what happens now. It’s my strong feeling that something should be done to repair the harm caused by this error, and that the repair should be more significant and more immediate than just “we’ll do better in the future,” because all tenure-track faculty have been and continue to be negatively impacted. I would like to talk to people about what the nature of that repair should be, because while I can represent the math well, I have no current role in representing the faculty.

I am attaching five slides I prepared for the Friday meeting which lay out the argument I made. Natalya also prepared slides on the median/mean issue and discussed it very effectively. If you need help interpreting what I’ve got here, please ask questions in the comments. There’s a caption under each slide that gives some context and guidance.

This shows the policy language that clearly says we should use the mean of peer means by rank.
This shows our formula as applied this year. It takes the peer value and subtracts our mean years of service and mean disciplinary weight (and also the terminal degree, although that’s not shown). This explicitly sets our mean target salary to the peer value, which should therefore be a mean.
This is a multi-part argument showing why what we’ve done is incorrect.
This shows the numeric impact of the low targets and lost raises. The targets were set at the top of the light blue, but they should have been set at the top of the red checked area. The raises derived from the wrong targets are shown in darker blue, and the raises we were due but didn’t get are shown in red. The unawarded raise amounts are corrected for reallocation of the raise pool (see next image).
This is an estimate of the impact of the bad peer values we have used, both in terms of raises but also in terms of total lost compensation. Every month that goes by without fixing this, we lose more money compared to where we should be. Note: this does not include the 11% match that most tenure-track faculty receive for their retirement contribution.

Raise comparison between faculty and administrators

May 7th, 2019

I asked for Guilford’s most recent IRS Form 990. I do this for several reasons, but I got started with the 990’s after the administrator bonus fiasco at the end of the Chabotar administration in order to have a look at our reported compensation for administrators. This most recent report allowed me to track the impact of the January 2017 raises for some of our administrators. I’ve shown the raises below, compared with changes in faculty compensation as reported to the AAUP for the same years.

Data

Data sources for administrators are 2016-17 and 2017-18 Form 990’s, which cover our fiscal year. Because of a change in our fiscal year start date, the 2016-17 report only covered 11 months, so I prorated the salaries reported in that document to 12 months before calculating the raises.

Data sources for faculty are our average salary by rank for the academic years 2016-17 and 2017-18 as reported to the AAUP by the college.

The 2016-17 numbers include part of the period covered by the large January 2017 raises. I think those raises are included in the 990 reports, because those report total dollars. I am not sure if they are included in the AAUP faculty salary reports, but I don’t think they were, because they show very little change from 2015-16 numbers. If the January 2017 raises were included in the 2016-17 data for administrators and not for faculty, then the difference between faculty and administrators is even more stark, and the faculty raise percentages should be decreased by about half to make them comparable.

For the administrators, I only included people who were working for the full year in both years and whose income was reported on the 990 in both years, with two exceptions:

  • Todd Clark, whose reported compensation dropped between the two years for reasons unknown to me, and
  • Kent Chabotar, whose compensation was set at $100,000 for five years following his presidency under the terms of his initial presidential contract

Barbara Lawrence is a special case, because her position changed from faculty to VP between those two years, so the high raise percentage shown probably mostly represents her new position. Her faculty compensation was high enough (>$100K) to be reported on the 990 in the earlier year, likely in part because of her involvement in the prison education project.

Analysis and Notes

With the exception of Jimmy Wilson, all of the administrators listed received higher raises (by percentage) than all faculty ranks. Jimmy’s raise percent was higher than all faculty ranks except Associate.

In dollar terms, all of the raises were higher than average faculty raises, in some cases much higher. Administrator raises for those on this list ranged from about $8,000 to $26,000, while the faculty averages changed by $2,000 to $4,300.

Jane Fernandes’ salary is set by the board and is not included in the compensation plan. The board granted her a raise during this time.

If the compensation plan was applied appropriately to all of these individuals other than Jane, for whom the plan does not apply, this outcome (higher raises for administrators than faculty) is possible if the administrators listed were all farther behind their targets than the average faculty member. I don’t know if that is true, because I don’t know the targets used for administrators, but do we know the faculty are far below their targets, so the administrators would have to be even worse off. That doesn’t seem entirely likely, given that faculty were at or near the 20th percentile among peers. However, setting targets for administrative positions is tricky, because the administrative positions we have don’t necessarily equate to similar positions at other institutions.

The raises for faculty were affected by the bad data used to set targets, as I’ve discussed earlier this year. That error was likely not made for administrators. All faculty ranks were affected by the improperly low targets in the first round of raises in January 2017, included in these data. However, the effect of these low targets is not big enough to account for the full difference in raise percentages between faculty and administrators.

Some faculty members who were farther from their targets received larger percentage raises than those who were closer. For example, my personal percent raise during this period was 8.9%, higher than the full professor average and higher than some of the administrators.

There is the potential for an apples-to-oranges issue here, because the faculty percentages are based on groups of 20-30 people, while the administrator raises are individuals. However, assuming the faculty salaries are reported correctly, that should produce no significant systematic difference in the numbers, with the possible exception that retirements, departures, or promotions of many high-salary faculty at any rank could depress the average salary for that rank to some extent, though likely not too much. When looking at the numbers, remember that the individual faculty raises are a range centered around the percentages reported, and are probably on average a little higher than the reported figure due to retirements/departures.

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.

Housekeeping information and communication page

April 17th, 2018

I’ve set up a page regarding the outsourcing of housekeeping with information and links to documents. That page is here:

Housekeeping

I’ve turned on comments there, so people can discuss or ask questions. I thought that might be perhaps less chaotic than a multi-step e-mail chain. I also thought it would be more accessible to Guilford staff, who can’t read the faculty e-mail chain on this topic, who aren’t permitted to write to the staff@guilford.edu address, and who might wish to take part in the discussion or make anonymous comments.

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.

 

 

 

Regressive impact of the parking fee

December 17th, 2017

I did a little more work on the regressive nature of Guilford’s proposed new parking fee, following up on my previous post.

A flat fee will have a bigger impact on low-salary employees because it’s a larger percentage of their pay. Because some of our other costs (e.g. healthcare, capped social security) are also regressive, the parking fee becomes even more regressive in terms of percent of take home pay. Our lowest-paid employees are already taking home a smaller percent of their total compensation than our higher-paid employees, and the parking fee makes that worse.

Flat fees and fair compensation

December 11th, 2017

Flat fees, such as our healthcare costs or the recently proposed parking fee, provide a much more significant burden on low-wage employees than on high-wage employees. This is just basic math. When a cost or fee is constant, then it represents a higher percentage of income for a low-wage employee than for a high-wage employee.

Consider two cases below – a low-wage employee making $35,000 a year, and a vice president making $175,000 a year.

 

Both pay the same costs for Guilford’s healthcare. For an employee supporting a family, that will be $9390 next year. That cost is fixed, and therefore regressive by income. Social security tax is capped, making it regressive at high incomes, so high-wage earners above the cap actually pay a lower percentage than lower-wage earners. The VP pays more Social Security tax in total, but at a lower rate. Medicare is a constant proportion (not capped, so neither progressive nor regressive).

If we look at these employees’ listed salary, the VP makes five times as much as the low-wage employee. But the capped taxes and flat-rate costs exacerbate the inequality. After we deduct the Social Security, Medicare, and health insurance expenses, the VP takes home nearly seven times as much as the low-wage employee.

If we add another constant fee, say $120 for parking for the year, that money comes out of the take-home pay. The fee is the same for all employees, so that fee represents about half a percent (0.5%) of the low-wage earner’s take home pay, while it makes up less than a tenth of a percent (0.08%) of the VP’s take-home pay. By comparison, Medicare taxes are 1.45% of salary, or ~2% of take-home.

In other words, a flat $120 annual parking fee has an impact as much as seven times as great on our lowest-paid employees as on our highest. That’s textbook regressive. It represents about ten and a half hours of work for the low-wage earner, given directly back to the college, and only one and a half for the VP.

We can do better. For that matter, we should do better with our health insurance also.

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.

Compensation Committee Updates

September 25th, 2016

Compensation Committee has asked me to share with the community the following items. These are located on the Committees@Guilford Google Drive folder in the Faculty Meetings section under the September 28 2016 Meeting.

The items are:

  • The Faculty Salary subcommittee’s report from last May 2016
  • The updated recommendations from the subcommittee from September 2016
  • A set of slides describing the recommendations and the thinking behind them which will be presented at the Faculty Meeting on September 28, 2016.

Note that with the slides, there are a set at the beginning that will be presented, and then another group at the end that provide further information and background.

I have also updated the Salary Calculator I programmed on the Moon Room last May to reflect the new proposal. Feel free to go there and see what your salary might be under the new proposal.

The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life