The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life

The issue with the annual increment

July 3rd, 2019

I’m getting a lot of mail about the revised letters that Frank posted. Rather than answer them all separately, let me put some of that here.

The graph below shows three different models applied to three different faculty ranks.

The 2018 model (heavy dashes) used a $300 per year annual increment, as we’ve been doing since the beginning of the compensation plan. It also used salary baselines that were far too low because of spotty non-representative data we got from CUPA. Had we used robust peer data, such as from AAUP, all of those 2018 lines would be significantly higher.

The wrong 2019 model (faint dashes) was the source of the first contract letter that got sent out this year. It used updated baselines based on our bigger group of peers, and it was higher at all ranks, because the new CUPA data didn’t suck and was more representative. This wrong model used an annual increment of $300/$400/$500 for assistant/associate/full, which is why the lines are steeper than the 2018 model. This was one of the options discussed by Compensation Committee last year, but they went with a higher annual increment. That’s the error mentioned in the new contract letters.

The correct 2019 model (heavy solid lines) uses the appropriate $300/$500/$700 annual increment that Compensation Committee agreed on. That produces lines that are even steeper at higher faculty rank. However, they aren’t higher or lower than the “wrong model” lines, because the baseline for each rank got recalculated (appropriately) to reflect the average service time. The point where the wrong (light dashes) and correct (heavy solid) meet is the peer median value we use to set targets and represents the average target salary by rank. Because there was no change in peer median between the wrong and correct models, they cross at that point. The assistant lines aren’t any steeper and didn’t change between letters, because they still use the $300 annual increment.

The correction means that if you are associate or full rank, if you have less credited experience than the average amount for your rank, you likely saw a drop in target between the first and second 2019 contract letters, while if you have more experience than the average amount for your rank, you likely saw an increease in target. That’s not wrong – it’s just the model being applied with the corrected numbers.

The point of changing the increments at associate and full was to reduce compression at those ranks. For example, the old model only had about $9000 difference in target between when you got promoted to full and when you retired 3+ decades later at the end of a 45-year career. That’s a much narrower and more compressed range than most other schools have, and it meant that our new full professors had really high targets, almost as high as our late-career full professors. By increasing the slope, we spread out the range of incomes much more, to better match the shape of most careers in academia and in other fields.

Importantly, these changes in increment were not intended to move the line up. When they changed the annual increment in the corrected letter, they also had to decrease the base to ensure the mean full compensation stayed in the same place, which is what the model intended.

There is another issue with the peer data they used this year, which affected the baselines they set. I don’t think we did that correctly. I’ve raised this issue with Frank, and I’m waiting on a response. If we did it correctly, we’d likely see a fairly significant increase to some targets, and we would be where we intended to be at this point rather than artificially low (for the third year in a row).

Salary targets should be greatly increased this year

July 1st, 2019

UPDATE: The graphs below aren’t entirely accurate, and they calculate salaries for upper ranks that are too high. Please wait on an explanation from the Provost.

My previous post detailed how my salary target was not where it was supposed to be given the President’s announced salary base values. Here’s some more information.

We should be seeing a pronounced increase in salary targets this year, because last year, due to non-representative data from CUPA for our peer group, our targets were incorrectly set very low relative to our peers for full and associate rank. Jane’s announced base salary values represented this change. For many of us, that’s not what we saw in our contract letters sent out today.

Here’s what should have happened from one year to the next:

This applies two new developments to our model.

One is the shift in baselines due to two factors: (1) using a better peer group this year, and (2) that peer group’s salaries going up as they nearly always do by about 2%. Those two factors are what makes the 2019 lines higher at all ranks than the 2018 lines. Factor (1) applied to full and associate ranks, while Factor (2) applied to all ranks.

The second is the shift from a flat $300/year in target for all tenured/tenure-track faculty to a graduated $300/$500/$700 for assistant/associate/full. That’s what makes the 2019 lines for the upper ranks steeper than the 2018 lines.

My salary target is wrong, and low, yet again

July 1st, 2019

My new salary target was set at $82,180 by the Dean’s office, but I think that’s wrong. Here are my calculations:

  • Jane reported the base salary for full at $63,988 in her e-mail.
  • I get the $5,000 for terminal degree, so that’s $68,988.
  • I have worked at Guilford 22 years. They didn’t count my earlier experience when they calculated it back in 2016, which was ok with me. The full professor rate for experience is now $700/year, and 22 x $700 is $15,400. Add that to the previous and I’m at $84,388.
  • The disciplinary bonus for Geology was set at $1,400. It’s possible that they have started to taper these values to zero as we approach our targets as the original plan stated. However, we did not do this in the 2018 raises, and Frank seemed steadfastly against doing that whenever we discussed it. If I’m still supposed to get the full disciplinary bonus, that’s $1,400 more, or $85,788.

I’ve written to Frank about this apparent error, which amounts to $3,608 lower target salary than I should have had. It’s possible there’s some hidden explanation I don’t understand, but as far as I know, nothing changed this year other than the base and the annual service adjustment.

Based on the numbers they gave me, it looks like the raises they applied this year amount to 11.4% of the gap between previous salary and target salary, which means the actual raise they gave is potentially about $400 lower than it should be, or 34% lower than it should be. That amount and percentage would change if they’ve done the same thing for all faculty because of the constraint of the pool size.

Of course, this doesn’t even get into the college setting the faculty salary targets way too low in previous years, which the college has yet to address or even comment on.

If you’d like to check your target, I’ve updated the salary calculator here:

2019 Salary Target Calculator

The Moon Room

A Community Forum on Guilford College Faculty Life