Two weeks ago The Ithacan ran an article in which administration and faculty salaries were discussed. Statements from members of the administration reveal a strong disconnect between administrative priorities and the professional and economic realities faced by over a third of IC’s faculty. The campus community — and especially our students — need to know that these issues have a direct impact on student learning conditions and on our college’s mission.
The article states:
“Rochon received an approximate 5.8 percent raise in 2013, as he earned $433,132 in the 2012 calendar year…”
“…the average faculty salary at the college during the 2013–14 academic year was $80,328. This is a 2.02 percent raise from the 2012–13 academic year, when the average faculty salary was $78,735.”
We would patiently remind our community that part-time faculty (who comprise roughly one third of IC’s faculty, and struggle to earn a living wage as highly qualified teachers, and who have, on average, 7 years of service at the college) received no raise at all that year, nor the one after. Nor did we the year prior to that… In fact, from 2010 to 2014, our administration regularly raised their own already-healthy salaries while denying even one cost-of-living raise to part-time faculty. How can IC retain excellent instructors and maintain the quality of the education they provide our students, when we leave them to struggle, living paycheck to paycheck, on semester to semester commitments, year after year?
Many of us take issue not only with the disparity of this treatment, but also the methods through which it is justified. As noted in the article:
(Nancy) “Pringle also said the college uses several different peer groups for different areas within the college. She said there is a regional group, a national group and a group determined by the faculty themselves, meaning there are different groups for administrators and faculty. Pringle said these groups are not public knowledge.
‘We’ve used them for several years, and we’ve also used an external consultant to check to make sure we have the right institutions on the list.’ “
The article continues, quoting Gerald Hector, Vice President for Finance and Administration:
“Overall, Hector said he believes the system for determining administrators’ and faculty members’ salaries is working well … ‘We’re not different from anyone else that’s trying to retain its current talented faculty, staff and other individuals,’ Hector said. ‘So I think we are on the right path.'”
Mr. Hector seems to have ignored the fact that the third of the faculty that work part-time voted overwhelmingly to unionize last May, with one of our biggest issues being our lack of a living wage. This is not evidence of an administration that is “on the right path” in regard to its faculty salaries.
This comparison-with-our-peers logic has been used to justify the exploitation of part-time faculty for years. It is a common excuse used by the powerful to perpetuate inequity. Why doesn’t the college base more of its decisions on factors and ideas that are local and specific to IC’s needs, rather than looking elsewhere to the assistance of highly paid external consultants, peer groups and costly strategic planning firms? This corporate trend is being countered by an effort to flip our campus, turning last year’s one-way hierarchy into a more equitable playing field of ideas, and a shared investment in a path forward, where our leadership looks inward — to both the experts serving on our campus and in our classrooms, and the vibrant young individuals who come here to constitute the biggest and most promising part of our community — our students — for answers and ideas. We believe that faculty, staff and students at IC know the best way forward, and if our college cannot trust its own decision-making, transparency and shared leadership, how can IC be a leader in tomorrow’s higher education?
The Bargaining Committee of the IC Part-Time Faculty Union is currently negotiating with administration to make important changes necessary to move IC forward. We’re bringing to the table ideas that would create some job stability, security, a living wage for part-time faculty, consistent and transparent policies for our employment, and a greater engagement with the college community in general. We aim to build structures that are innovative, just and sustainable. To do so, we may have to leave our “peer group” and venture into uncharted territory, but that is what leaders do. We hope that the administration will work with us to craft a new and different model — one that not only seeks input from the campus community that is Ithaca College, but listens, trusts and relies on it.
Mark Baustian, Lecturer, Department of Biology
John Burger, Lecturer, Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education
Brody Burroughs, Lecturer, Department of Art
Megan Graham, Lecturer, Department of Writing
Sarah Grunberg, Lecturer, Department of Sociology
Rachel Kaufman, Lecturer, Department of Writing
Tom Schneller, Lecturer, Department of Music Theory, History and Composition