Community Forum on Fair Compensation Policy: April 8th, 2015, 3:45 p.m., West Gallery

Clerk’s Committee has decided to hold an open community forum on designing a fair compensation policy at Guilford. The desire for such a policy was a strongly stated goal that arose in the faculty meeting on March 25th, and a faculty statement requesting that a committee be developed to create such a policy was approved at the faculty meeting on April 1st.

As a first step in this process, we are holding a forum on Wednesday, April 8th, at 3:45 p.m. in the West Gallery. Although this was originally scheduled as a faculty forum, we decided to open up the meeting to interested staff, students, and community members. The forum will begin with a presentation from a faculty group who has worked on issues of faculty and staff compensation for many years, which will include

  • possible components of a salary policy
  • questions we need to answer to establish our priorities in this effort
  • examples of models from other institutions

What this meeting is for:

  • Thinking about what a fair salary policy at Guilford might look like
  • Thinking about a healthy process for us to establish such a policy, including who should be involved in preparing it
  • Thinking about our priorities for compensation, and how those can be effectively included in a policy
  • Hearing from all community members, not just faculty, on what their interests and goals are
  • Building a better future for the college

What this meeting is NOT for:

  • Dwelling on past practices, except where they provide guidance for the future. This includes the issues surrounding the IRS form 990’s – while they are important, they are not the focus of this meeting.
  • Discussing the current budget reduction process
  • Vilifying anyone

A note on participation:

We understand that not everyone may be able to attend this meeting who wishes to. We hope to hold more meetings in the future at times when more people can come. We also understand that not everyone feels comfortable speaking in public about this issue. You are free to leave anonymous comments below on this page, and they will be read and shared with the community. You can also write the Clerk of Faculty, Dave Dobson, at

Slides presented at the forum: Salary Policy Information Slides

There’s more information including other meeting materials here: Salary Policy Home


  1. it seems as if the presentation by the faculty group will provide the framework for this discussion. As their work was not an inclusive process involving all employees, I hope that efforts in the future are more intentional to involve those not on faculty. Opening a forum to all staff and students is likely the best step that can be made this week, but there are many other ways to engage and include other voices in such an important decision. Transparent and visible efforts to seek inclusion can help ameliorate the damage done by past faculty comments (taken out of context unfortunately) such as “cut staff positions to give faculty raises”. These comments have unfairly shaped many staff members opinion of our faculty and I view the process that begins this Wednesday to be an opportunity to bring the entire College together. Leadership of the process and voices in the process need to include all those who work for Guilford. Thank you for your consideration and time on this very important issue.

  2. I do not think, in anyway, faculty — or staff — salaries should be shared openly. No, I don’t make enough to warrant this request. The reason for this view is that, as a former public school teacher, and in my present capacity of working *with* public school teachers, anytime a news article comes up about salaries, and since all are publicly viewable and available this happens a lot, the conversation always–always–shifts to one of rancor/envy/dismay/blame/comparison, etc., etc.

    I do think those who make the most (whatever those threshold numbers may be) should be available (as they are now on the 990s), as a way to not only monitor things, but also to provide context. However, for salaries to be open…this could potentially lead to more anger and distrust…this def. would not help the current atmosphere here on campus. Those who are willing to individually share can surely share, but an open record would be problematic from my experiences.

    • In response to David Hildreth, I just want to add that I worked in a government job for some years, and because we were government employees, salary information was open as a matter of law.

      As far as I could tell, everyone was fine with it (even though as government employees we made less than private sector lawyers).

      Dave, I think the kind of resentment you describe among public school teachers is overdetermined: nobody is paid enough, everyone is overworked, and there is very little autonomy.

      In contrast, as a lawyer paid by the government, I and my colleagues were decently paid and did work we believed in, with a fair amount of autonomy.

      Salary transparency is not alone a recipe for resentment … neither is it a cure-all. But it can be part of a well-functioning workplace in which all employees feel appreciated and respected by management (another factor affecting public school teachers).

      So, I think more data about when an open salary structure does and doesn’t contribute to employee satisfaction would be useful before we decide whether it’s a good idea.

  3. To anonymous: Friend speaks my mind.

  4. Caroline McAlister

    As someone whose full time teaching job has been cut back to part time and whose benefits have been cancelled, I hope that compensation for part time teachers will be part of the discussion.

  5. Thank you Dave Dobson for your well-written email that included many concerns from the entire community. One of the most surprising things to me about Guilford when I came to work here in 2013 was the tangible division between faculty and staff. This was disappointing to me not only because it has sometimes been uncomfortable as a staff member, but also because I have deep roots here; my dad as an alum (’68), my family lived on Nathan Hunt Rd. for four years when I was born, I attended pre-school across the street, my mom taught at the New Garden Friends School for ten years…the list goes on. I look forward, with gratitude, to the renewed atmosphere that I see this conversation creating between our faculty and staff. We all want Guilford to genuinely represent community and inclusion. Compensation is important for all of our livelihoods, but that issue can’t be resolved harmoniously until we all feel that our voices are heard and valued. This meeting seems like a great start.

  6. I agree with Mr. Hildreth. I am a member of the staff and have been at Guilford for some time now. I feel strongly that everyone, faculty/staff, should be compensated fairly for ALL the work they do. For some positions this work, while greatly important, may not be readily visible. Giving transparency to everyone would create an atmosphere of envy/greed and animosity towards positions/individuals who are observed to be overpaid, for whatever reason. More so, a policy of transparency does not equate to people getting raises, just as it does not equate to salary reductions; no one would look at their salary vis-a-vis a transparent look across campus salaries and say, “gee, I make too much, better take a pay-cut…”

    Which brings me to the main point, many at Guilford are greatly overworked and underpaid; situations they have been in for some time without raises, or just compensation. Given the serious financial situation Guilford is in, it does not look like things will be getting better any time soon – especially as we anticipate a large number of staff cuts, and a number half that size in faculty position cuts. This, coupled with the president’s high-paid consultants and new high-cost positions, e.g. VP-Marketing, VP-Enrollment, have created a serious gap between those who feel (and really are) at the bottom of the college, with those who are (genuinely) at the top. The 990, through its transparency, provides fuel for a witch-hunt (e.g. how does the VP for advancement make so much, and yet has a terrible track record of successful fundraising?)… more transparency would expand this line of attack on positions/people and increase the aforementioned gap.

    Transparency is not a solution. A real solution would be a commitment from the President’s office to instill and uphold a mandate that HR would audit all positions on-campus, in coordination with their department, to work out a schedule that would gradually provide raises (while meeting ascribed benchmarks) with the goal of making everyone’s salary competitive against their position’s national average. In the absence of this, we will continue to see excellent people leave the college for better paying positions. And why shouldn’t they, there is no hope here for raises and/or a relief from being overworked….

  7. Deep into the financial crisis we’re facing and this is a welcome bit of progress.

    Point 1: Salaries (= power)are distributed in ways that stretch definitions of fairness and Core Values. For example, bonuses that have been handed out. Do we agree it’s very hard to square them with professed values and mission of Guilford?

    Point 2: Faculty-staff distinctions don’t reflect the differences and divisions that have been permitted to flourish and that seem to determine working relationships. For example, there are very high paid faculty and then very low paid ones. Ditto for staff.

    So while this meeting is a great start, perhaps our way forward should reflect the reality of where we are now, what’s going on now and not the theoretical “what should be”. Perhaps we should skip the faculty-staff titles and assumptions that go with them (horrors!) and start with living wages that would support all employees (aka valued members of the Guilford College community).

  8. I know I am at the bottom of the totem pole on this issue, but I wanted to mention it in hopes it will be addressed some day in the near future. I teach night classes part-time (not continuing) at Guilford that are run through the CCE department. My salary for each class is based on the number of students that are in the class after the last day to drop. I never know what salary I will make, as some students never show up, and some add the day after the class starts. I usually have a few requests from traditional students who have a scheduling conflict and need my night class. I take a few of them in, but don’t get paid for it. I’ve taught at Guilford for several years now and will continue to do so, because I believe in the mission and values of the college. I also enjoy working the wonderful group of students we have here.

  9. Some comparative data, although not perfect:

    Includes faculty and staff information, from IPEDS data.

  10. I would politely request more advance notice for the open forum, if possible. I would also suggest an additional open community forum to allow more voices to be heard for those of us who cannot attend this meeting. I feel that it is an important topic that cannot be addressed in one meeting, nor should it be. I do understand that having a timely consensus on what we all feel is important as well.

    Finally, as I have not been privy to the current faculty discussions, and do not know what colleges have been looked at, I do know that Emory College spent two years revamping their pay and performance management with campus-wide consensus with the result. I realize that this may be a future topic, after achieving market rates, but it could also be part of the discussion for future raises and maintaining fair compensation.

  11. Guilford College should strive for a consistent pay policy and standard promotional structure similar to other colleges and universities. For example, it is my understanding that UNCG requires a master’s degree for an associate director’s position. On the other hand, at Guilford College, whether or not you are eligible for a raise or title change (based on your educational status) is dependent upon the department in which you are assigned or the individual supervisor for whom you work. Inexplicably, in some departments, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient to hold a high-level position, while in other offices a master’s is required (at least according to the supervisor) for a director’s position. In many instances, it is the option of the supervisor to construct and implement their own standard and criteria to determine who should or should not be promoted. Unfortunately, this method of addressing promotions is extremely inconsistent and far from equitable. In the absence of a standard formula or procedure, personnel are often promoted for politically or personally-motivated reasons instead of merit or performance.
    For the past few years, members of one department were told, “Get your master’s degree and you will receive a promotion and a raise.” Years later, one staff member is still waiting on a promised promotion after earning a master’s degree and several others are nearing completion of their programs, thus costing them upwards to $11,000 (on a staff employee’s salary). Unfortunately, there is not a title change forthcoming or even on the horizon. Although most employees realize that raises are not an option in the present fiscal environment, even requests for a title change without a raise are being denied. To make matters worse, these employees do not know if they will be subject to the pending staff reductions. While it is a definite plus that these staff employees have attained or are nearing completion of their master’s degree (at their supervisor’s suggestion), being $11,000 in debt with no pay raise or title change in the foreseeable future is somewhat disconcerting! Hopefully the advanced degrees will assist in their upcoming job hunt.

  12. If the college is sincerely interested in a transparent pay policy then the second point “including who should be involved in preparing it” should take center stage. While most colleges and universities have a cultural divide between faculty/staff/administrators based on the different type of work roles, that is extremely pronounced at Guilford.

    It should be acknowledged in the most basic way that staff do not identify with faculty on this issue. There are still open wounds from a meeting in which staff listened to faculty advocate for cutting staff positions to fund a faculty pay raise.

    In order to start with transparency there should be a real acknowledgement of the appropriate comparison objects for pay: Guilford faculty pay (and not coincidentally Guilford tuition) is the 4th highest in the State of North Carolina for privates behind Davidson, Duke and Wake Forest. While inequities are apparent in the salary structure for all(that is true of most organizations), generally speaking cuts are disproportionately executed at the expense of staff. Guilford had 41 tenured faculty members 10 years ago, today there are 81 tenured faculty members and 42 programs. None of these numbers are sustainable for a college with declining enrollment and rising tuition discount. This information is important because of past faulty comparisons with peers and aspirants regardless of salary differentials in other locations. All our pay is relevant to the state and vertical within which we work, and from that comparison Guilford faculty are well compensated, but spend a disproportionate amount of time obsessing over administrative salaries.

    To the average staff person with this information it really appears that the true inequity is on the academic side of the house. With the exception of a handful of high paid administrators, faculty can be paid out of a variety of pots in addition to their regular salaries, work 7 months out of the year and get course release for committee work.

    This is stated simply to illustrate the point that a faculty led commission on fair pay is probably not the best way to get all voices in the mix.

    While this effort is probably motivated by a “heart in the right place” scenario–it might be better served to actually back up even further and try to heal some of the deep divides between faculty and staff–and make sure calm peaceful voices are included in the conversation. I’ve personally never seen a place so obsessed with what other people make than Guilford College and it has done nothing to further the mission of the school, it only alienates and deepens existing wounds.

  13. I am not sure where Anonymous at 4:53 is getting their information but looking at the AAUP salary data

    Full professors at Guilford are at #6 out of 16 for salary at private baccalaureate institutions in NC
    Associate professors at Guilford are at #8 out of 16 for salary at private baccalaureate institutions in NC
    Assistant professors at Guilford are #8 out of 16 for salary at private baccalaureate institutions in NC

    The better comparison is to our peer group, rather than private baccalaureate institutions in NC. I do not have that data, but I am sure the salary equity group would have it.

  14. Another interesting set of graphs – covers faculty only unfortunately:

  15. Pingback:Alternate comparison groups for salaries

  16. I only hope that as this Community Forum On Fair Compensation takes place, that the living wages of the staff that service the campus is of high priority. It is worth stating that everyone contributes to the success of Guilford College. No job position should be deemed more important than another. Without the services provided by departments like Facilities, IT&S, etc., Guilford would not be able to survive. Enrollment is based on more than just the courses that Guilford provides to students. It is also based on the condition of the buildings, grounds, and of the various services provided to the campus community.

    Forums like this should also take into consideration that some staff members begin working as early as 4:00 AM. Some of them would like to be a part of the discussions, but they leave the premises at noon and are reluctant to come back for forums held in the afternoon.

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