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President Keck responds to concerns over administrative pay raises

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Photo Courtesy | Michael Barera

Christian Aleman and Todd Kleiboer | Co-Editors

The A&M – Commerce Faculty Senate met with upper administration members  during its monthly meeting March 6 to discuss the concern of administration pay raises after faculty and staff were told there would not be raises this year.

“I thought the raises were pretty large,” Faculty Senate President Chad King said. “My recollection is that some of these raises were five figure raises, tens of thousands of dollars, that’s a pretty big raise give everything else going on here.”

 Fiscal Year 2018 Administrative Accountability Report Link: http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Documents/Publications/Other/Admin_Acc/2018/751_TAMU_Commerce.pdf

State reports showing administrative salary raises circulated among faculty earlier in the spring semester, and President Ray Keck and Vice-President of Business Administration Alicia Currin addressed these reports with King and other faculty and staff leaders in a meeting Feb. 12.

“We were told that the raises were equity adjustments which are different than a merit raise,” King said. “We [the Faculty Senate]  wanted an explanation of this, which we kind of already had, because I told the Senate my meeting with Dr. Keck told us that they were equity raises. I think a lot of people still wanted to hear that.”

King explained that equity adjustments are given to positions “not being compensated at the level that similarly situated” positions, and while faculty are technically eligible for these raises, they are generally not given because of difficulties in measuring equity between faculty members.

“Those [equity adjustments] were somehow based on a market comparative position internal to the A&M System calculation, that their [the administration’s] salaries were not sufficient,” King said.

Faculty in the past had been awarded raises through a merit pool in which faculty would be eligible for a raise. However, faculty received a message last fall that there would not be a merit pool this year due to budget constraints.

“Instead, what they gave us were one-time bonus payments,” King said. “The thing that’s unfortunate about that is it doesn’t go into our base salary, so next year we don’t have that money, and of course your salary affects your retirement benefits, and it affects your summer stipends for teaching summer classes.”

King pointed to an administrative failure in communicating what type of raises would happen during the year, and once the situation was explained, faculty were more understanding.

“I think there was concern about the perception that – benefit of the doubt to everyone involved – this should have been better explained along the way,” King said. “If there were going to be equity raises, that the language in explaining where the raises go probably should have been a little more clear. Again, I’m talking about the meeting, and this is what came up.”

According to King, frustration had been simmering among faculty for some time, and this served as a conversation starter for those larger issues pertaining to no clear funds for faculty raises, transparency, lack of competitive faculty salaries, and faculty workload.

“It’s not like these were secret raises,” King said. “We can set that aside…but it still doesn’t mean that we still aren’t frustrated about the fact that we essentially are going without raises this year.”

The day after the meeting, Keck sent out an email to faculty stating that a “special faculty Task Force” would be created to “draft a multi-year proposal addressing workload, faculty compensation, and equity adjustments,” and by the end of the academic year, this task force should be “identifying desirable goals, benchmarks, and strategies.”

“I would like for there to be a conversation about these long term plans and benchmarks and progress towards meeting each one of them,” King said. “Faculty salary, faculty morale, faculty workloads do affect retention of your faculty and your ability to recruit new ones.”

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President Keck responds to concerns over administrative pay raises