Faculty members talk compensation at closed meeting

by Mika Jehoon Lee | 11/8/16 12:46am

Yesterday afternoon, about 90 Arts and Sciences faculty members gathered for the termly general meeting in Alumni Hall to discuss the general state of the College as well as the Committee on Priorities’ report on faculty priorities.

At College President Phil Hanlon’s proposal, the portion titled “Conversation with the President” was held during a 90-minute executive-only session, which was closed to outside observers including the press. The faculty voted in favor of holding the executive-only session, during which the faculty discussed the College’s vision, competitive positioning and resources.

After the session, chemistry professor and Chair of the Committee on Priorities Jane Lipson said that the College plans to increase compensation to faculty members by $5 million.

She said that the administration wants to provide incentives to faculty for their pedagogical excellence without reducing the College’s budget for academic objectives.

Lipson noted that the compensation increase comes at a time when the College is trimming its budget.

At a town hall last week executive vice president Rick Mills announced that the College would cut $20 to $25 million from the non-academic areas of the budget.

At the meeting, Mills said that the main revenue streams of the College — tuition, federal research funding and endowment returns — were “under immense pressure.” Mills proposed reducing the budget by not filling open positions and voluntary and non-voluntary separations.

At a Board of Trustees meeting in September, the Board endorsed a faculty compensation strategy which would ensure Dartmouth faculty salaries would be competitive with those of faculty at peer institutions by finding a benchmark to measure up to.

In 2015, the College compensated the average tenure-track faculty member with salary and benefits of $177,000, which is approximately $15,000 less than the rest of the Ivy League, according to data compiled by the American Association of University Professors.

For the previous 10 years, the College benchmarked salaries against the median of a subset of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, an organization which comprises of 35 institutions including the entire Ivy League, according to a 2014-15 Committee of the Faculty report on faculty salaries. The report recommended benchmarking by the AAUP data in addition to the COFHE data.

In her presentation, Lipson advocated for the faculty’s role in College governance. She also discussed institutional priorities noted in the report including space allocation, faculty compensation, budget issues and recent proposals for changes in the College’s infrastructure.

The Committee is responsible for promoting the faculty’s priorities through allocation of resources.

Lipson discussed the development of the new Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society and the expansion of West Campus, which includes the construction of five additional buildings to supplement the Thayer School of Engineering and the computer science department.

A faculty member in attendance noted that communication between faculty members and the Committee on Priorities lacked transparency.

The meeting met the 75-person quorum. Last week, the general meeting for all of the College and graduate schools’ faculty failed to meet its 150-person quorum. After it was realized the quorum had not been met, the meeting was rescheduled for a later date.