Faculty pay addressed at UC Senate meeting

Senators addressed the recommendations listed in the Task Force Report on Faculty Issues and Concerns at the first Urbana-Champaign Senate meeting of the year Monday. The report was a compilation of solutions to issues raised by faculty members this past summer.

The recommendations in the report were put together by three subcommittees headed by Nicholas Burbules, Randy McCarthy and Joyce Tolliver.

“Each committee met repeatedly over the summer, including numerous meetings with administrative colleagues, to share information that will help develop realistic, achievable solutions to the issues raised,” said Burbules, professor in the College of Education.

There were a total of 18 recommendations in the report, a few of which referenced faculty salary inequalities and a goal of making salaries even across the campus. The subcommittees set a goal of creating a comparison model for gains in salary for faculty members which are being offset by other factors, like the rising cost of healthcare.

The report said the University’s ability to attract and retain world-class faculty depended critically on offering a highly competitive compensation package, which appropriately combines salary with other benefits.

“We want to bring faculty salaries up to a highly competitive level,” said McCarthy, mathematics professor. “Faculty should be involved with administration in monitoring our progress.”

The report also included a few recommendations about the current pension plan at the University. The IGPA’s “Six Step” program was offered as an option because it addresses the long-term sustainability of the pension program and revamps pensions for newer campus employees. However, a complaint was raised about a lack of clear information about pension programs and current benefits, and the idea of a single faculty benefits handbook arose.

One of the key issues was about the current Facility Condition Index, which measures the relative rate of deterioration of facilities at the University. The Facility Condition Index was 16 percent last year, down from 23 percent in 2007. The report listed an index goal of 0.1 percent.

Many of the other recommendations were about clarifying policies campus-wide and increasing transparency, trust and respect between faculty and administration. Senators emphasized shared governance as the most effective way for the University to run smoothly.

“The result (of this report) is not just a bunch of ideas, but in effect, a joint statement with the administration in which there is already mutual buy-in and commitment to making these reforms work,” Burbules said.

Also at the meeting, Chancellor Phyllis Wise discussed the Campus Strategic Plan, which was completed in August. The plan outlines the main goals for the administration over the next few years. She mentioned three goals in this plan: rebuilding faculty hires, increasing financial support for students in need and enhancing the diversity initiative.

“It’s not diversity just in numbers (that we’re looking for), but diversity in relation to inclusion because that is a matter of excellence; that is a matter of our competitive edge,” Wise said.

Wise also referenced the Chicago Tribune article that was published Friday about the lower number of in-state freshmen at the University this year versus a decade ago. She said the current freshman class was more diverse and competitive than those in years past, and the Tribune was trying to “turn good into lemons.”

There was a proposal from the Senate Committee on Educational Policy to revise the 2013-2014 academic calendar. The proposal outlined a change in the venue and date of the commencement ceremony for spring semester 2014. The Senate approved the new date and location so that it will take place Saturday, May 17, at Memorial Stadium because remodeling on the State Farm Center will not be completed in time for the ceremony. The Senate will reevaluate this change next year.

Brittany can be reached at [email protected]

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly quoted Burbules saying “joystick”. Burbules said a “joint statement”. The Daily Illini regrets the error.