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Deans begin process of allocating faculty compensation realignment funds

June 7, 2007
By Elizabeth Boyle

Deans of seven Ohio University colleges are working with department chairs and school directors to determine how they'll allocate more than $1 million in increases for Group I faculty next year. The additional funding is on top of a 3 percent merit raise.

Overall, Group I faculty will receive an additional $1.2 million in total compensation (salary plus retirement and other benefits, such as Workers' Compensation) each year for the next five years, based on the recommendations of the Faculty Compensation Task Force -- whose members included three faculty members and three deans -- and the Budget Planning Council.

The effort is aimed at retaining and recruiting faculty by making total compensation more competitive with that of peer institutions. The approach adopted by the task force targets additional funding to improve Ohio University's salary competitiveness in national and peer rankings.

Two streams of disbursements from the Structural Realignment Funding Allocation for salaries already have been made to the colleges, each distributed according to a formula, said John Day, associate provost for academic planning and budgeting.

The first formula takes into account each college's total number of full-time Group I faculty as a proportion of the university-wide total. The second apportions funds based on the difference between salaries in that college's disciplines and discipline-specific market averages at research-comparable institutions. The latter were drawn from the American Association of University Professors' 2005 Oklahoma State University Faculty Salary Study, Day said.

"The reason for the realignment is to keep our university competitive for faculty we are recruiting and to keep the faculty we have. To do that, we have to pay attention to the market," Day said. The market comparisons are an "inexact approach because the definition of the market varies by discipline. The formula also gives colleges credit for the number of faculty they have," he added.

To be eligible for the salary increase, an individual must be Group I faculty and must have been "engaged in the full mission of the institution -- teaching, conducting research and creative activity and serving their units," according to the task force report. Deans are developing, or have developed, specific guidelines within their colleges to identify the process for distributing increases. The deans' recommendations will go to Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl for approval.

Each college is taking an individualized approach to disbursing the funds in its unit, although colleges may not make across-the-board pay increases, according to the Compensation Task Force guidelines.

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Ogles said his approach takes into account teaching, research and service. Ogles followed a protocol his college has used for the discretionary portion of previous merit-based raises by splitting the total allocation into two sums.

He gave half to the chairs and asked each to present him with a plan for how they would allocate the funds in their areas. English department Chair Joe McLaughlin's approach was to average faculty members' evaluation scores -- which take into account teaching, research and service -- for the past five years.

The other half is distributed at Ogles' discretion, based on the chairs' recommendations and sustained performance in teaching, research and service.

"Because we did not use any of the 3 percent raise pool for chair- or dean-discretionary increases, we elected to distribute our portion of the structural realignment pool using our typical pattern for discretionary merit raises. This gives us a great deal of flexibility among departments with varying traditions," Ogles said. "As a result, I can work with the chairs to provide increases in a variety of situations, with a primary emphasis on rewarding sustained high performance."

College of Fine Arts Dean Charles McWeeny said he will focus the first-year funds in his college on Group I probationary faculty. His process will include consulting with his college's directors after they have reviewed each faculty member's five-year evaluation.

"Because this investment is a multiple-year commitment by the university, we've decided to focus it where it is most needed in the first year," he said. "I can make a difference for the productive faculty whose salaries needed to be adjusted most." The College of Fine Arts has lost 28 Group I faculty members in the past four years, a majority of whom were probationary faculty, he said.

Greg Shepherd, dean of the Scripps College of Communication, said the disbursements will vary from school to school depending on the input he received from directors who have reviewed their departments' merit evaluations going back five years. He plans to allocate funds to faculty who have consistently been evaluated highly by their peers and who show continuing promise of excellence based upon the recommendations of his school directors. In at least one school, the funds will be used primarily to address equity issues.

"It's a bottom-up process," he said. "I relied on the directors' own understanding of performance over time."

The process is expected to be completed this month, with pay increases beginning in the first month of faculty members' 2007-08 contracts.

"The Faculty Compensation Task Force worked diligently to design a process that would reward faculty whose contributions to the institution are judged by their peers to be meritorious," Krendl said. "This initial investment in faculty compensation will launch the process of meeting our institutional goal of recruiting and retaining the very best faculty. The process will require five years, but this year's investment demonstrates our long-term commitment to valuing our faculty."

Last fall, President Roderick J. McDavis charged the Faculty Compensation Task Force with developing a plan to improve Ohio University's ranking among aspirational institutions in total faculty compensation. This investment of additional funds seeks to raise faculty members' total compensation into the next quartile when compared to aspirational institutions. Ohio University currently ranks in the lowest quartile. Its plan is to move compensation well into the next quartile in rank order over the next five years.

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