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Executive Summary

Faculty salaries at the University of Washington rose modestly (less than two percent per year) from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, but have stagnated since then. Indeed, from 1992 to 1997, average UW faculty salaries have declined in real terms. To reach parity with the average of eight peer universities (Michigan, North Carolina, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, Illinois, Indiana, Arizona and Oregon), UW salaries would need to increase 15 to 20 percent. UW salaries are behind those of our peers in every school, college, and department on campus, and at every rank. Although there are significant variations in average salaries across different units at the University of Washington, almost every unit can claim that its faculty at every rank is paid well below what peers receive at other leading public universities. The inevitable result of low UW salaries is an increasing inability to compete for the best talent in the academic market.

There is very little long-range planning for the distribution of faculty salaries. The current policy is governed by opaque language in the University Handbook, poorly understood administrative procedures, episodic market pressures, and a wide variety of departmental level traditions and practices. With only modest salary increases in recent years and considerable uncertainty about processes and procedures, tensions and misunderstandings about salaries and salary policy are endemic in the current system.

The Committee recommends that the University establish clear and easily understood principles to govern a new faculty salary policy. The policy would include regular salary increases based on rigorous evaluations of merit, a salary schedule tied to grades within ranks that would permit career advancement, and a commitment to maintain salary levels comparable to those of peer institutions. The current system of annual reviews needs to be augmented with a flexible system of more in-depth, but less frequent reviews that are tied to career advancement and significant salary increments.

The Committee recommends that the University explore options for differential unit-based salary allocations based on department or college contributions to University goals. This strategy should be presented with the goal of encouraging departments and faculty to work together to develop collective goals for the enhancement of education, research, and service. The University is also encouraged to consider means consistent with federal and state laws that will allow faculty whose salaries do not depend on state funds to receive differential salary increments from faculty whose salaries are dependent on state funding.

Faculty Salaries Next