TTF salaries in last place

There and Back Again

The latest AAUP salary survey is out and tenure-track faculty salaries at UO remain dead last when compared to our AAU peers. This is not, of course, the first time we have ranked last, but it is disappointing to see us fall further behind.

The UO has eight designated AAU peers, schools we compare ourselves to and compete with: UC-Santa Barbara, the University of Colorado-Boulder, Indiana University-Bloomington, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Virginia, and the University of Washington.


Our comparators achieved substantial salary increases, while tenure-track faculty salaries at UO held relatively steady.


One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

In 2014, UO tenure-track faculty made positive strides to catch up to our peers. Full Professor salaries grew by 7.1% in relation to our peers, Associate Professor salaries saw 8.0% growth, and Assistant Professor salaries grew 3.6% in comparison.


These comparative jumps were the result of the first round of collective bargaining. In the second round of bargaining, Jamie Moffitt, Vice President for Finance and Administration, touted this comparative increase. She congratulated us all on coming close to accomplishing the mission of the 2000 Senate White Paper on Faculty Salaries – having salaries of all three tenure track ranks within 95% of those of our comparators.

Unfortunately, the administration’s bargaining team immediately undercut this achievement by offering all faculty a mere 1% raise over two years. Over several months of negotiations we managed to salvage 8% raises over three years, but even those relatively low raises have caused the administration to fret about budgets in future years.


What Is To Be Done?

The only way for the UO faculty to climb up from the bottom is for the administration to commit to recruiting and retaining excellent faculty. Certainly, many factors contribute to one’s decision to come to (or stay at!) Oregon, but salary is always a main consideration. We cannot recruit and retain the best and brightest of the new faculty if we are offering only the lowest salaries. As President Schill has said, Eugene is a wonderful place, but there must be a commitment to excellence. The administration must address the costs in research opportunity, faculty morale and vitality, and curricular continuity when excellent colleagues leave for greener pastures.

We must also recognize the excellence we have. We have tried to do this through the collective bargaining agreement; no less than half of all raises bargained by United Academics have been merit raises to recognize excellence. Faculty in their units, in conjunction with the deans and Provost, crafted merit review policies to recognize and reward the hard and fruitful work of the faculty. The union has always bargained for more money in merit pools than the administration was willing to give. It is time for the administration to prioritize excellence in faculty compensation when they are budgeting for the university. As we have always proclaimed, Budgets Reflect Priorities.

Speaking to the campus community on April 12th, President Schill said, “I go to sleep at night saying my goals (are) having this university move up, move up, move up, so that we will be compared to UCLA, Michigan and Virginia; I don’t go to sleep at night saying that’s not going to happen.”

Average Salary (dollars in thousands)

2015-16 Full Associate Assistant
UC – Los Angeles 187.8 122.6 97.9
University of Michigan 167.5 111.6 95.3
University of Virginia 164.9 111.3 94.5
Aspirational Peer Average 173.4 115.2 95.9
UO per Academe 127.5 91.5 84.3
UO Percentage of Aspirational Peers 73.5% 79.4% 87.9%

Note: Salary figures represent the contracted salary, excluding summer teaching, stipends, extra load, or other forms of compensation including benefits.
Data Source: Academe March-April 2016. Chart inspired by the work of Marie Vitulli, made by United Academics Staff


An Injury to Jane Is An Injury to All

This year the AAUP report featured a look at salaries by gender. In both rounds of bargaining, United Academics pressed the university to address salary equity issues. In the first round of bargaining, the administration put a small amount of money toward addressing compression and inversion in the tenure-related ranks. In the last round of bargaining, however, the administration was unwilling to dedicate any money toward addressing this issue and was only willing to agree to an equity study, although they did agree to make salary issues related to gender part of the study.

Below is a chart that compares salary disparities within tenure-related ranks among our comparator institutions. Of course, these numbers are calculated with a broad brush, failing to capture differences between colleges, within departments, etc., but they are a first step in understanding how gender impacts salaries in the academy.

Ratio between the average salary for women by rank divided by the average men’s salary, times 100


Full Associate Assistant
UC – Santa Barbara 86.9% 96.5% 100.4%
University of Colorado – Boulder 91.5% 93.0% 87.9%
Indiana University – Bloomington 90.0% 91.1% 85.1%
University of Iowa 89.6% 89.3% 84.7%
University of Michigan 90.0% 95.1% 94.0%
U. North Carolina – Chapel Hill 85.5% 95.5% 87.8%
University of Virginia 85.8% 93.5% 89.7%
University of Washington 91.6% 93.0% 92.6%
Peer Average 88.9% 93.4% 90.3%
UO 99.3% 95.8%


Note: “Salary Equity” refers to the ratio between the average salary for women by rank divided by the average men’s salary, times 100. For example, if an institution had an average woman’s salary for an assistant professor of $100,000 and an average man’s salary for an assistant professor of $100,000, the gender equity ratio would be at 100.0, or parity. A ratio below 100 indicates the cents on the dollar of an average woman’s salary below a man’s average salary at that rank, and a ratio above 100 indicates the average woman’s salary above a man’s average salary at that rank.
Data Source: Chart inspired by the work of Marie Vitulli, made by United Academics Staff

What these numbers reveal may not be a surprise, but that makes them no less disgraceful. There is no explanation outside of discrimination on the basis of gender to account for the near universal fact of women’s salaries being lower than men’s salaries in the academy. While the University of Oregon may be doing better on this issue than most, there is still no legitimate reason for these inequities to continue to exist at all.


Work to Do

Once again, we find ourselves falling further behind. Once again, we have more work to do. Our first step must be to keep working with the administration, helping them understand that the University of Oregon cannot continue to underpay its faculty. President Schill has talked about hard choices and tough sacrifices. We know plenty about sacrificing for the UO. In order to maintain our ranking as one of the nation’s premier universities, we not only need more tenure-track faculty, we need excellent tenure-track faculty. We cannot recruit and retain an excellent faculty with these numbers coming out year after year. The administration must make a commitment to the faculty and a commitment to fixing the twin problems of bottom-ranking pay and disparities based on gender. Fixing these problems is a key to retaining our AAU ranking and flourishing in the coming years.


[1] The AAUP also tracks “Instructor” salaries, but these comparisons are considered almost worthless because different universities use different titles for their NTTF and there is no consistency in reporting on these data.
[2] To be completely fair, Assistant Professors at UO earn $500 more than Assistant Professors at the University of Iowa.
[3] The average Full Professor salary grew by $1,300; Associate Professors saw a $500 decline on average; and Assistant Professor salaries increased by only $500.
[4] The average Full Professor comparator salary grew by $4,300; comparator Associate Professors saw a $4,100 increase on average; and comparator Assistant Professor salaries increased by $4,200.
[6] Does the report mean “sex”? It is difficult to say and one imagines that universities use the words interchangeably.


Austerity Message Pt. 2

Dear Members,

Last week we sent the bargaining unit a message regarding the proposed cuts in the College of Arts and Sciences, describing the process as we understood it and asking for your on-the-ground perceptions of how the process is progressing. We have received a tremendous amount of feedback and our understanding grows and evolves each day. Please, keep sending us information, and your questions, about how the process is unfolding in your unit.

The main thing we are hearing is that what is happening in CAS does not match the process we described. We have received reports from many units that decisions have already been made with regards to who will not be renewed and faculty are beginning to be informed that they will not be returning. We have also heard that many unit heads believe that decisions are being handed down from CAS and the process is not as collaborative as we were led to believe it would be.

We received Dean Marcus’s memo seeking to dispel the “rumors” we were hearing. It states that cuts have not been finalized, unit heads are being given opportunity for input, and their input is being taken into consideration. Dean Marcus assures us that “In most cases, these conversations have changed some of the outcomes we initially proposed.” However,  some career NTTF have already been informed of non-renewal and several questions still remain. We have asked the CAS deans for a meeting to gain a fuller understanding of how the process came to be described to us so differently from how it is actually playing out and to have some of the faculty’s questions addressed. We are meeting with them on this afternoon and hope to have more information for you very soon.

The two main questions we hope to have addressed are how cutting non-tenure-track positions will save money in the long term, and why there is such a rush to address a problem that has been building for years; it is our understanding that in some cases department heads are being given just a few days to propose where to make massive cuts to their faculty.

Many faculty have expressed a fear that cuts to their unit will become self-perpetuating, leading to a permanent weakening or de facto elimination of their program.  The College of Arts and Sciences, facing a $4 million deficit, is using the metric of NTTF student credit hours (SCH) to TTF SCH in each unit to  single out areas where cuts can be made. The idea is apparently that some units are carrying more NTTF than truly needed, since TTF can teach those courses. CAS is proposing to cut NTTF positions to restore a balance between NTTF employment and NTTF need. Many NTTF, however, teach the largest classes in their units (and NTTF teach more courses than TTF), so that reducing NTTF FTE will almost certainly lead to reduced student credit hours in the unit in subsequent years. We have asked CAS to address this apparent contradiction and to discuss with us the plan to prevent the units which are seeing cuts from having to make cuts again as their SCH decrease in future years.

We also want to discuss with CAS the apparent rush to get these cuts done. Many good questions are being asked regarding the proposed cuts and good questions deserve well-thought-out answers. We are deeply concerned that decisions made hurriedly today will lead to damaging outcomes tomorrow. We understand that President Schill has made improving the tenure-track faculty to student ratio a priority. We share his enthusiasm for this goal. We do, however, wonder why the ratio needs to be improved all at once this year, indeed, over the course of less than a month.

At this point in the process faculty have more questions than answers. We do understand that this is a difficult process for everyone and in no way question the commitment and hard work of our deans and department heads. As Dean Marcus wrote, no one is happy about reducing budgets or cutting faculty. We hope that our conversation this afternoon will be full, detailed, and productive, and we will report back to you what we learn.

Please reply to this email to send in your information and questions so we can represent the faculty fully and well.

Austerity Measures

Dear Members,

President Schill sent a message to the campus community that has generated considerable conversation (and some anxiety) for everyone concerned about the education and research mission at the University of Oregon. Leaders of United Academics are involved in discussions with university administration about the changes President Schill envisions. We want to share with you what we are hearing. We also need to hear from you about what you are learning regarding changes in your unit. By speaking with an informed collective voice, we can help President Schill live up to his promise to make proposed changes as smooth and humane as possible.

Over the past few weeks, we have started to see the contours of what President Schill is envisioning for our campus: consolidation and reduction in the communications personnel on campus; cancellation of the remainder of the branding contract with 160over90; and reductions in administrative personnel. We have also been told that there will be 40 new graduate student scholarships next year that can be used to recruit top-flight graduate students.

President Schill’s letter indicated cuts will be coming to the instructional staff, in order to, as he put it, “align our resources to achieve academic excellence.” Our understanding is that most of these cuts will be focused on the College of Arts and Sciences, at least in the near term. Based on the information shared by Dean Andrew Marcus at a recent meeting of department heads and program directors, we understand the plan as follows:

For each department, the CAS deans measured the growth in student credit hours and faculty employment since the 2007-8 academic year for each department. You can see their breakdown for each division in CAS here. They will be using these numbers to set preliminary reduction goals for each department. The deans will meet with department heads to discuss the scenario in each unit, get feedback about their proposals, incorporate the information they learn, then go forward with any cuts.

The CAS deans have been careful to emphasize that there are no plans to cut any tenured or tenure-track positions or to terminate any Career NTTF contracts. They have said their focus within CAS is on the pro tem and instructional postdoc positions, although there may be some non-renewals of Career NTTF positions. The deans have said the bulk of the cuts will be to the Humanities division of CAS, as this is the division that includes most of the NTTF positions. The idea seems to be that Career NTTF and TTF will have to take over the work done by the pro tem faculty, maintaining workloads by giving up some of the small seminar classes.

There are some real concerns about this plan. We have reservations about the feasibility of replacing large numbers of faculty by shifting work around; we do not see how this can be done without sacrificing quality in both education and research. We also have concerns about asking faculty to teach courses they have no experience teaching. Just because a class has a 100-, 200-, or 300-level designation does not necessarily make it any easier to teach than one with a 400- or 500-level designation. We also know that faculty feel stretched already. Our course loads, TTF and NTTF alike, are high and already stress our research and service obligations.

Fortunately, the Collective Bargaining Agreement limits the administration’s ability to terminate tenured and tenure-track faculty except for disciplinary reasons or in the case of extreme financial emergency, and–in this latter case–only as part of an articulated plan to deal with such a crisis. The university administration has been careful to state that they are not declaring a financial crisis. This is partly why President Shill uses phrases like “realignment” and “transition.”

The Collective Bargaining Agreement also limits the ability of the administration to terminate Career NTT faculty mid-contract. Career NTTF can be non-renewed when their contract is up for renewal, but their contracts cannot be terminated or cancelled mid-contract. This is why we fought so hard to establish two- and three-year contracts for Career NTTF who earn them. These contracts do not guarantee ongoing employment at the university, but they provide some level of protection and limit times at which NTTF can be non-renewed.

Unfortunately, pro tem and instructional postdoctoral positions do not enjoy these protections; by their very nature they are designed to be temporary positions. Again, this is why we have fought so hard to limit the number of pro tem positions on campus and convert as many positions as possible to Career NTT so those faculty could earn some level of stability.

We have learned that the department heads in Romance Languages and English have met with the CAS deans and so far the changes proposed are very much as Dean Marcus described them at the department heads meeting. The information we have, however, is not complete and is filtered in a variety of ways.

In order to represent the interests of all faculty, we need to hear from you about the changes that are affecting your unit. We are working to set up meetings between departments and union leadership to discuss the coming changes. If you would like us to meet with your department or program, please respond to this email and we can help set up a meeting. Replying to this email will also put you in touch with our staff who can answer individual questions or discuss your concerns. We need to hear from you and we are eager to help in any way we can.

In solidarity,

Michael Dreiling

Message from VP-TTF

Dear colleagues,

I’m writing today to introduce myself as the newly elected VP for Tenure Track Faculty in United Academics. United Academics is a community of faculty at the UO working together to enhance the quality of faculty work life and student education. You are probably aware that we recently negotiated and signed our second contract with the university. Our first CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) brought about vital and positive changes to the working conditions of faculty and instituted some clear and equitable policies and procedures that were long overdue. Our second contract made further significant gains. Not only have we secured raises (both cost of living and merit) over the lengths of both contracts, we have also protected our benefits and improved working conditions for faculty across all ranks and units.
Some of the most important issues for tenure-track faculty addressed in our first two contracts have been those of shared governance, faculty voice in policies and procedures, transparency and accountability.
*Our new contract includes attention to resources for faculty research and advancement, the kinds of investment that are particularly vital for faculty productivity, recruitment and retention.

*The CBA insures that there is faculty input in the development and clarification of procedures and policies for reviews, promotion, and workloads.

*One of the most exciting initiatives on which United Academics has taken a lead is the new first-year faculty development program that will provide mentorship and support for new faculty in the early stages of their academic careers.

*In the area of benefits and work and family life, we were able to negotiate a commitment on the part of the university to work with us to explore the possibility of a university community sick leave bank. We have another committee focusing on child-care for faculty parents.

*Our negotiations also led the administration to agree to a campus-wide study of salary equity issues, including gender equity.

As VP for TTF, I am particularly eager to get to know the tenure-track faculty. I want to hear what you are interested in and concerned about. What’s working and what needs work? How can we, collectively as faculty, best advocate and work for conditions that both enhance our productivity and satisfaction in our work and contribute to the success of our students? What should our priorities be, moving forward? We are a member-run union–do you have ideas or suggestions for how to increase full membership by faculty in United Academics?

Please think of me as a resource and contact me with questions, ideas, concerns at
best wishes,

Karen McPherson
Professor of French
Vice President for Tenure-Track Faculty