Description of proposal at St. Mary’s College in Maryland to establish a salary plan that would tie ALL employees’ (faculty, administrators, presidents) salaries to the wages received by the lowest paid full time employees.
August 25, 2014
Colleges Could Narrow the Income Gap on Campuses
By David Kung and Laraine Glidden
Growing inequality threatens our society.
A few years ago, such a provocative claim might have had limited support beyond a public park in lower Manhattan. Today a rising tide of voices warns of the ill effects of the increasing concentration of wealth and income. The warnings come from academics like Thomas Piketty, politicians like Sen. Elizabeth A. Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and, at times, President Obama. Now even the self-described “zillionaire” Nick Hanauer, in a recent Politico article
, implores us to avoid what he characterizes as an impending rush of pitchforks.
At St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a public honors college, a group of faculty and staff members, students, and alumni have put together a proposal that would permanently cap the growing ratio between the top and bottom earners on the campus. The St. Mary’s Wages plan would establish a benchmark minimum salary for the lowest-paid full-time employees that would rise with inflation. Tenure-track faculty members would make at least twice that benchmark. Different groups of workers (for example, associate professors, professional-staff members) would be guaranteed wages above specified fixed multiples of the lowest salary.
This has been a pet peeve of mine for a very long time. We academics completely miss the mark when we decry the number of meetings we have to attend. The problem is not the number of meetings, it’s how abysmally run they are. Both our colleagues and our administrative sisters and brothers waste scads of institutional resources (read our time) by poorly thought out, poorly prepared for, and poorly managed meetings. We tend not to help much: few of us really know how to attend a meeting and almost no one actually does any “homework” before a meeting.
One solution I have been trying to sell is the budgeting of faculty time. Anyone who calls a meeting has to “pay” for it and in any given semester there is only so many “meeting person-hours” to go around. Another is to have ongoing training in how to do meeting. It’s one area where some for profit companies have figured something out : they respect the idea that time is money and so they try to waste less of it.
This paper models the effects of faculty participation in university decision making. Its findings suggest that by affecting academic quality, faculty participation provides a net benefit to the institution compared to scenarios in which faculty are excluded from decision making.
The model’s assumptions about institutional quality and how enrollment depends on it strike me as too simple even if a good starting point and I’m not enough of a modeler to assess the quality of the model, but it is nice to see the question framed formally. The benefits of clear thinking may outweigh shortcomings. It might be more of a conversation starter than exhortations based on things like representation or the right of participation.