A new cost-saving policy affecting faculty salary was approved by the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees during a Thursday meeting. However, the measure could make faculty members less likely to take administrative positions.
Several faculty members at UW leave their departments to become administrators, normally with a pay raise.
Now, salary benefits from their time in administration will not follow them back to their departments.
During the September UW Board of Trustee meeting, staff were instructed to analyze what’s known as the 83 percent rule. The regulation explained what happens to an administrator’s salary if they leave the position and return to their college as a faculty member, said Tucker Readdy, UW Faculty Senate chair.
“Any administrator, from the lowest level department head all the way up to vice president of academic affairs, historically, went from their administrative salary to 83 percent of that administrative salary (when returning to a faculty position),” he said.
Typically, 83 percent of an administrative salary is more than the typical faculty members’ salaries, Trustee John MacPherson said.
“There was one previous administrator who returned to a faculty position, and I looked at the average salary within that college — this particular person was making $100,000 more than what is the market of a person in that position,” he said.
Readdy said a main reason faculty move into the administrative position is to better the university, not to exploit a monetary rule.
“I would hesitate to say faculty take advantage of the financial implications going into administration,” he said. “At the department head level, the increase they get now is not all that much — its only when you get into the high levels of administration when there’s (a large pay raise).”
There are 11 former UW administrators utilizing the 83 percent rule, MacPherson said. Currently, the additional funding used to pay for the increased salaries costs UW about $750,000-$1 million a year. This figure changes as former administrators leave the university.
The rule was originally made to coax faculty into administrative positions, said David Jones, vice president of academic affairs.
“One of the reasons we did the 83 percent return was try to incentivize people to step into the roles of administration,” he said.
Some faculty members have to make sacrifices when they move to an administrative position, Readdy said.
“The perspective that wasn’t brought up was the professional sacrifice faculty members make when they step into administrative roles,” he said.
Administrators normally don’t have as much time for research, Readdy said.
Three alternatives to the 83 percent rule were presented by Jones after he spoke with provosts from five similar universities, including Colorado State University.
One option would have administrators return to their base nine-month salary plus any market or merit raises that would have been allocated, as administrators do not receive faculty raises.
A second option would return administrators to a base 12-month salary, Jones said.
“The individual still gets a bump, but nothing like what a returning administrator gets now,” he said.
The final option would have returning faculty receive the highest salary in their department.
The trustees voted for returning administrators to get their base nine-month salary.
“That is what most institutions seem to be doing,” Jones said. “All five (provosts) said their plan A is to have that individual go back to their nine-month salary rate.”
Sometimes, a department can be fully staffed when an administrator leaves their position, MacPherson said. However, UW still needs to find a place for the tenured faculty member, as they cannot force tenured professors to leave.
“When a person returns to their college, it’s probably not a position (to pay) for them,” he said. “The result is the original faculty salary plus raises are going to have to come from someplace. I just think that’s something we have to live with, frankly.”
Jones said the academic affairs department keeps a reserve to pay for a year or two of the faculty’s salary, after which the department absorbs the salary.
“They’re getting a benefit — they’re getting another faculty member, and they need to figure out how to pay them,” he said.
After Jones presented the options, MacPherson made a motion to use the nine-month base salary for future administrative hires.
The motion passed after ten minutes of discussion.
“I understand the motive in making these changes,” Readdy said. “I would just like to see more meaningful discussion and opportunity to review the materials. I think it’s very challenging to make these responsible decisions when you haven’t had the time allotted to really think deeply about them.”
An amendment to the resolution passed Friday allowing lower-level administrators can negotiate both their salary and the salary they return to after returning to faculty.
“The new language allows for department head and associate deans to negotiate for what their administrative salary is and, from the end of the discussion today, there will be a negotiation for what the rate they return to,” he said. “They could, potentially, return to a rate highly.”