One of the most controversial debates between administration and faculty could be decided as early as today, when Fairfield’s Board of Trustees meet to discuss possible changes in the way that faculty are paid.

The Trustees postponed a potential vote on the subject last June so that a committee of four administrators and four faculty members could review the current university’s governance structure and make recommendations regarding any changes that should be made.

“The ad-hoc committee that was appointed but the Board in June met and completed their report which will appear before the board on Thursday,” said university spokesman Doug Whiting. “Based upon that, I have every expectation that the board will take up the issue.”

The issue has sharply divided the faculty and administration for the past year. The current pay system gives an across-the-board percentage increase to all faculty every year. The faculty voted unanimously in May to oppose changes. Faculty members say they already have a merit pay system in place, based on professors having being evaluated in teaching, research and service before they are promoted to associate professor or full professor.

The Trustees have argued that all elite schools that Fairfield wants to compete with have more complicated merit pay systems in which some professors get no raise while those who are more active get a larger increase. Many trustees are looking at the business world and saying that it is routine to reward more active employees.

Dr. Donald Greenberg, a professor of politics, chaired a committee in 1983 which looked into a merit pay system.

“We found no evidence that was in favor of merit pay in terms of service to students or the community,” Greenberg said. “It forces faculty to have to be measured to a system that does not reward them for things like meeting and advising students. I think that it holds an artificial criteria.”

“We already have a system which rewards faculty for their performance by giving faculty members promotions,” said Greenberg. “It works well and the faculty are content with it. The proposed merit pay is about control and power.”

“The faculty is overwhelmingly against merit pay which was evident by the way they voted greatly against it last year,” said Dr. Lucy Katz, professor of business management and one of four faculty members on the committee that recently studied the issue.

But university administrators view merit pay as a system that betters the university through encouraging professors in the academic community.

“I think that the board is in favor of a new system that directly connects individual performance with increases in salary,” said Dr. Orin Grossman, academic vice president.

“We are one of the last schools of any quality institutions to implement some system of merit pay. The faculty who seem to be most vocal against it never seem to have a good reason why Fairfield should not be like the schools that already have it, like Loyola, Yale, Providence, and Boston College.”

The faculty representatives on the recent committee, Katz, Dr. George Lang mathematics professor, Dr. Kathryn Nantz economics professor, and Dr. John Thiel religious studies professor, believe that there is not a continued feeling of hostility between faculty and administration, but there are a few “problems of performance failures within the structure.”

The proposed system of merit pay would reward faculty for forms of academic achievement such as scholastic publication, academic speeches and presentations, and research. Faculty argue that in trying to get recognized for these achievements, they will not have enough time to spend with students mentoring and advising.

But faculty members have refused to help develop a system that would reward more active professors.

“If the board acts, they will mandate a change, not an approach,” Grossman said Tuesday. “They are not going to tell the faculty how it has to be one specific way. It will be up to the chairs and the deans to make a criteria for which merit is awarded. The decision about how the change is executed should come from the area of expertise, not the administration.”

In a Nutshell…

Administration Says: * The current system is hurtful to good faculty/administration relations * While most other schools have a system of merit pay, we are one of the select few that does not * Faculty and administration would work together to create a good system for the university

Faculty Say: * Merit pay is about administrative control over faculty * It focuses faculty attention away from students to fulfilling criteria in order to get a promotion * It reates an “us vs. them” mentality between the faculty and the administration

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