U of Washington works to equalize faculty compensation
- The University of Washington has passed a plan to allow professors to apply for merit-based salary increases within its faculty ranking system.
- The measure is designed to counter salary compression, caused by inflation and pay scales varying by disciplines and salaries offered at peer institutions.
- Critics of the plan say that departmental opt-out clauses and questions about future resource availability make the plan vague and potentially divisive among units which typically draw more resources versus those which do not.
There is no easy solution to solving the mystery of salary compression, but colleges and universities should first ensure that any pay balancing plan is consistent among disciplines. The issue is particularly pressing for faculty in the arts and sciences, as Inside Higher Ed reports that full professor earnings in these disciplines trail their peers nationally by more than 12 percent, and that departments with high retention rates usually face less compression.
Those factors bode well for disciplines which can recruit high-caliber students and grant funding for scholarships. For other disciplines, factors like the longevity of faculty members, popular majors with high student ratios demanding more faculty members, and departmental productivity in research and publishing, all add more complex considerations for merit increases and pay redistribution.
- Inside Higher Ed Seeking fair faculty pay