Thursday, October 28, 2010


This year, Excruciating Faculty Committee (EFC) is arguing for an increase in faculty salaries, as we're woefully underpaid compared to peer institutions. Since last year there was a salary freeze, and this year there was an across-the-board salary cut, I think the timing is not auspicious.

We spent a couple of meetings randomly discussing other institutions, and how their faculty make so much more money, and not getting anywhere. As one of the few members of the committee who is comfortable with actual data, in self defense I put together some numbers, showing the average salaries for our full, associate, and assistant professors, and how these compare to regional and peer institutions. The conversation that ensued shows how many of our faculty are knee-deep in the river, snapping pictures of the pyramids.

Excruciating Chair*: "Look how much money they make at [mid-level R1 school that happens to be in the same state]! How come we don't make that much?"

Maybe because we don't have graduate programs, an engineering school, a medical school, or even significant grant income?

Excruciating Biology Professor: "[Internationally known select liberal arts college in the same state] has the same mission that we do! Why do they make so much more money?!"

Uh, 'cause we're an under-enrolled liberal arts college nobody has ever heard of, in the middle of nowhere, with fairly poor student outcomes?

Excruciating Philosophy Professor: "When you look at the salaries by discipline, it looks like the math and science professors are farther from their peers than those of us in the humanities! We can't use these data!"

Me: "But those are the data that argue for the largest pay increase over-all, including for humanities faculty."

Excruciating Philosophy Professor: "But it gives the math and science faculty a bigger raise. I can't accept that!"

Me: "mumble, forces...mumble, mumble."

Excruciating Philosophy Professor: "Don't talk to me about market forces. I do the same job as a computer science professor, I should be paid the same!"

Me: bangs head repeatedly on table.

I'm going to supplement my income by selling souvenir salt and pepper shakers in the shape of Khufu's tomb.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

I had another meeting of EFC today. Every time I sit through one of these meetings, I send out another job application. Lest you think I'm just a whiner, and the people on this committee are not as bad as I make out, I want to report on a conversation I had with a colleague in Women's Studies as I was walking to the meeting. She was heading toward a meeting of her own, and complained about the crazy colleagues she would have to deal with.

Me: "You think you've got it bad? We've got [Excruciating Chair] heading the committee!"

Friend: "Good God! Who allowed that to happen?!"

Me: "All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to stand idly by."

Friend: "Honestly, I feel for you. Let's send each other good vibes from our separate circles of Hell."

Yup, that just about summed it up.

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