Friday, September 20, 2002

Read Past The Headlines And You Find...

A Commercial Appeal story about action by the Tennessee Board of Regents to give raises has a headline that says one thing and a story that's something else altogether!

Regents vote today on proposed 2% raises, merit hikes for faculty
The Tennessee Board of Regents is expected
today to approve 2 percent across-the-board raises for faculty,
staff and administrators at its schools, including the University of
Memphis and Southwest Tennessee Community College.
Sounds good, if a bit meager. But then, money is tight this year, unless you're the Department of Transportation, or those travellin' Administration officials.

Dig a bit deeper into the story, though, and you learn this:
The committee also recommended increases for university
presidents and other administrators to bring their pay up to at
least 90 percent of what their peers receive.

U of M president Shirley Raines's proposed salary would go up 4
percent to $203,429, bringing her up to that 90 percent level.
Southwest president Nate Essex's salary would go up 2 percent
to $164,315, bringing him to 99 percent of his peers'.

The committee recommended approval of the salary hikes in a
continued effort to stop the exodus of faculty and staff from
Tennessee schools, where faculty salaries have been as much as
13 percent lower than at comparable schools in the region.
Wait. Faculty is 13% lower, but the top administrators are within 10%? Doesn't sound fair, does it?
At the U of M, the 2 percent raises and $1.2 million in merit raises
that would be doled out to some faculty would bring the average
faculty salary up to only 86 percent of their peers' salaries....

Raines said despite the school's "disappointing" salaries
compared to other schools, the university is seeing improvements
in faculty morale.
Not with actions like this they won't.
In all, more than $2.2 million in merit raises will be given to U of M
administrators, faculty and staff. Faculty members receive 55.4
percent of that money.
More than half? Sounds good, right? Well, with CA stories, it's always what's not said that carries the day. I suspect that faculty makes up more than 55% of the staff at the U of M, and with pay disparities (Custodians and service staff make less than professors, right?), it makes you ask "How's that kitty being divvied up?"

But don't look here for answers.

While we're on the subject of Tennessee higher education, I'll also direct you to South Knox Bubba's excellent post on UT President John Shumacher. I'm with him on this guy. I think he's gonna be great. But I'm still waiting to see how the folks around him act, especially with the intrusion of the private sector into the hallowed halls of academe. And will legislators see his initiatives as a good excuse to cut more UT money if they succeed? (SKB wants Schumacher to run for governor next time. I'd like to see Marsha Blackburn run. What a match-up, huh?)

Until next time.

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