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By Jennifer M. Fitzenberger
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 9, 1997

Communication 'solution' to UA salaries

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Arizona Daily Wildcat

"I believe the salary situation is in need of a serious and careful study," - Peter Medine

Although a merit-based plan to boost UA faculty salaries may be the first step in mending a substandard pay scale, increased communication between Arizona's universities and the Legislature is the long-term solution, faculty and administrators have said.

"I believe the salary situation is in need of a serious and careful study," said Peter Medine, an English professor who has been working with his department head for the past two years on faculty salary issues.

This year, employees will be eligible for three salary increases.

The Classification Maintenance Review will add 3 to 8 percent to the base salaries of persons holding hard-to-fill positions, while the General Salary Review will raise all employee salaries by 2.5 percent to a maximum of $1,000, said UA Chief Budget Officer Richard Roberts.

As a part of the Merit Salary Adjustment, the Teaching Incentive Program will raise faculty pay 2 to 5 percent based upon merit and teaching credit hours.

He said these perks are among the first in an eight to 10 year effort to boost University of Arizona faculty pay so that 75 percent of faculty will have higher salaries than their counterparts at peer institutions.

"There is no doubt they (faculty) are underpaid compared with our peer institutions," said Terence Burke, associate to the president. "These days we tend to be distinctly below average."

The UA's peer institutions include universities such as the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the University of California, Berkeley, who are roughly the same size and have the same goals, Roberts said.

Burke said a lack of sufficient state funding is reason for the concern.

"Teachers don't get paid enough anywhere," said anthropology junior Chandra Paradis. She said instructors at all institutions, including the UA, deserve to make more than they do now.

The Teaching Incentive Program, Medine said, will not make a significant dent in the salary problem.

"We are hired at this university to teach and to do research and to serve," he said. "That's not what we're rewarded for - we're rewarded for becoming administrators."

Medine said he had not heard much about the Teaching Incentive Program, and "I keep up with things."

He said one problem has to do with dean and department head mismanagement and a bad relationship between the Legislature and the UA's administration.

"It can be fixed through communication," he said.

Another problem, he said, is the difference between UA faculty of the same rank and their compensation.

"Many who receive good evaluations have low salaries while other of the same rank have higher ones," Medine said. "This is a very big problem."

Jeffrey Warburton, Faculty Senate presiding officer and theatre arts associate professor, said this discrepancy is the result of other differences between faculty, such as prior experience and education.

Initial faculty salaries are market-driven, Roberts said, although there may be a pay discrepancy between departments.

He said the university hires for specific positions.

"Their (prospective hires) value in the market place is already determined," Roberts said.

He said pay is also based upon success.

"Lute Olson would not be able to get his salary without demonstrating success," Roberts said. "His value is on the line with every team he puts on the court."

This year the UA's head basketball coach will earn $528,955. Olson, who led his team to a national championship, is also an adjunct associate physical education professor.

Demonstrated competence is another salary booster, Roberts said.

"If you had a bad heart, whose hands would you want in your chest?" he said referring to Jack Copeland, professor of surgery, who will make $561,446 this year.

Students agreed that UA professors earn their paychecks.

"I think teachers always deserve more money because they are educating people," said psychology sophomore Robin Rediker.

Although salaries are market driven, Medine said faculty still are not compensated the way they should be.

Medine said a year ago, 72 percent of the English department's faculty were earning salaries less than the peer institutions' average as reported by the American Association University Data Exchange.

"Our department is not three-fourths sub-average," he said. "We had a regents professor who was earning $5,000 less than the average full professor."

Because the number of faculty vary from year to year, Medine said, money can be found within departments.

"There is always a little wiggle room," he said.

Last year, the UA made a salary request hoping to bring the average faculty salary to the 50th percentile compared with its peers - half of salaries would be below average and half would be above, Roberts said.

Warburton said in the future the Senate may create a task force to study the salary problem.

"We need some adjustment," he said.

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