Different Strokes from Claremont Colleges on Providing Equitable Pay

By Ittai Sopher

In the face of national debate surrounding workload and pay for university professors, Scripps Dean of Faculty, Amy Marcus-Newhall, appeared on an Association of American Colleges and Universities panel on Jan. 25 to discuss new initiatives related to providing better time-management policies for professors.

According to a January report from Inside Higher Ed, Dean Marcus-Newhall’s policies included a shift from a five-course requirement for professors to a four-course requirement. The same report from Inside Higher Ed says that these changes were a response to data from the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education which revealed “faculty dissatisfaction with the college’s five-course load.”

In a statement sent from Dean Marcus-Newhall’s office, Associate Director of Media and Public Relations, Karen Berg, cited the course-load decrease as an instance where Scripps has given “special attention to providing equitable pay for our faculty.” Later saying that Scripps has, “had as a goal to keep tenured/tenure track faculty salaries within the top one-third of our comparative colleges group.”  

While unlike Scripps, Pitzer College has yet to move from a five-course system for professors to a four-course system, Pitzer presents a reasonably equitable system. Pitzer Dean of Faculty, Nigel Boyle, describes the payment method as “essentially a seniority escalator with two ranks.” These two ranks are comprised of assistant professors and associate professors. Both of these ranks start off with a baseline salary and this salary is adjusted based on seniority.

Boyle believes that Pitzer’s system is one that lines up well with his own personal philosophy. However, Boyle was quick to acknowledge the limitations which more equitable systems sometimes present. For instance, recently when an associate recommended that Boyle hire a computer scientist, Boyle was forced to acknowledge the school’s economic restraints: “we just can’t afford to hire one.” Boyle says. Amidst criticism from the Harvey Mudd College faculty surrounding professor payment, treatment, and workload, Boyle remains confident in Pitzer’s ability to succeed as egalitarian institution with a unique set of core-values.

Claremont McKenna has a payment method which provides a contrasts to Pitzer’s seniority-based system, “it starts market-based.” Dean Peter Uvin believes that CMC’s system gives the college more leeway to give credit for professors who are doing extra conciliatory work: “there are margins to add bonuses or raises on top of that. Most of the other colleges don’t do that”. Uvin adds that , “mentoring, advising, for example are harder to measure. And yet because it’s harder to measure, doesn’t make it less important.”

The way colleges and universities address issues regarding equitable pay are crucial to bridging the wage gap between male and female professors, as well as white and non-white professors. In an article from The Chronicle, Kelly Ward, an expert in academic leadership, says “workplace policies, tenure and promotion processes, and the work-life balance pose challenges for women who want to work their way up the ladder.” Colleges and universities within the Claremont Colleges are conscious of this distinction and are working to defend and strengthen their systems. However, for actual changes to take hold nationally, systemic changes need to take place on a local level.

Photo Credits to CBS News