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Unit Level Considerations in a Salary Policy

Included on this page:
A. Differential Allocations to Units
B. Using Non-State Funds to Increase Salary Levels

A. Differential Allocations to Units:

Heretofore, considerations about unit level differentials in salaries were not part of the University's formal salary policy. There are differences in entry-level salaries across units reflecting market forces in different disciplines. The average salaries in different units can also vary because of compositional differences (the distribution of faculty by rank and years since highest degree), patterns of senior recruitment, and the number of responses to outside offers. The resulting differences in average salaries across colleges and departments are, however, not the product of any conscious plan to discriminate for or against any unit. In most years, the same percentage increase of funds for merit salary increases is allocated to every unit.

This policy is in sharp distinction to the process of individual level salary determination within units. Each department is asked to conduct rigorous merit reviews of individuals and to then allocate salary increases based on these evaluations. This principle is, however, not extended upward. The central administration or colleges do not allocate differential funds for merit salary increases to departments based on the unit's overall excellence or contribution to institutional goals.

There is good reason, however, to open a dialogue on how unit-based incentives and rewards might improve the collective performance of departments. Providing an opportunity for departmental gains (in terms of merit salary increases) based on a collaborative effort will prompt each department to work as a unit. It will also encourage departments to develop and value complementary faculty contributions in teaching, research, and service.

One strategy might be for the central administration (and colleges) to ask departments to state their collective goals and/or how they propose to meet University goals. Department goals (and strategies for their attainment) could be reviewed and evaluated on a competitive basis. If a departmental plan were accepted, there might be an agreement for a future evaluation and collective reward (perhaps in salary allocation) if the goals were achieved. Since every department has many goals, this process may encourage individuals to cooperate (by specializing in different activities) in order to reach a common goal.

We are not proposing specific policies for unit-based salary allocations, but recommend that the administration begin discussions on this option, and consider some experimental forays in this direction.

B. Using Non-State Funds to Increase Salary Levels:

There is an urgent need to identify additional funding sources beyond state support to reduce the existing inadequacies in faculty salary levels. In several schools of the University, regular faculty are appointed as WOT (without tenure by reason of funding). Salary support for these individuals depends entirely, or in variable proportion, on non-state funds. In addition to WOT regular faculty, other individuals appointed in the research track are paid exclusively from research grants. For example, approximately 30 percent of the appointments in the School of Medicine are tenured or tenure track appointments; the balance are WOT regular faculty and research faculty. For WOT regular faculty, the state provides no funds or less than 50% of salary funds. The state provides no salary support for research faculty.

WOT regular faculty whose pay depends solely or in part on non-state funds do not have guaranteed salaries and are under a continuous risk to maintain their salary. Funds to support their salaries are only available from success in obtaining research grants from other sources. Nonetheless, WOT and research faculty are subject to the same restrictions on salary increments as are state funded tenure-track lines. In other words, there is an artificial ceiling on WOT and research faculty salaries that has pulled their salaries downward relative to their peers at other institutions, even though state funds are not used to pay their salaries.

Although not analyzed in this report, there is substantial evidence that the salaries of WOT regular faculty as well as research faculty have lagged far behind salaries paid at comparable institutions or nation-wide. At the present time, faculty salaries at the UW School of Medicine are well below those of medical schools in the United States. If the comparison is limited to institutions of rank comparable to the University of Washington School of Medicine, the situation is even bleaker.

We recommend that the University explore administrative options to allow faculty whose salaries are paid with non-state funds to receive salary allocations higher than those on state budgets. This proposed policy change should be consistent with federal law and administrative rulings and should not lead to any increase in state funds to units whose salary increments exceed those approved by the state.

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