Reversing a historical trend of asking for money, the Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty (CESF), represented by chair John E. Tropman, asked the Regents at their December meeting for discussion of the general issue of compensation.
Tropman, professor of social work and adjunct professor of business administration, said that this year's "interruption in salaries," which he called a "revenue fast," should prompt us "to think about how we should be paid.
"Is the 'notch' system we have appropriate? Are there other options to explore, such as bonuses, gain-sharing, or providing faculty with additional funds to be used in a manner appropriate to their academic role?"
Tropman invited the Regents to share their thoughts with him or other CESF members, with Provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr. and with Vice President Farris W. Womack.
Noting that the University will be reviewing a flexible benefits program, he suggested that the "cash side" of compensation also be explored. "Could we design a strategic pay system that would better serve the goals of both the University and the faculty?"
Tropman, in response to a question posed by President James J. Duderstadt, said that the Advisory Committee on the University Budget provides a good model for discussions of compensation since it covers a broad area, looking at strategic systems across the entire University.
Whitaker said he welcomed "the opportunity to get major stakeholders in the process," adding that "we might have a win-win game."
Regent Philip H. Power was "enthused" about CESF's offer, noting that it could "trigger discussions of strategic roles and missions the University should be taking." The discussions, he said, should not just focus on compensation, but "should lead to rigorous and explicit discussions of the University's mission."
Duderstadt also was pleased with the CESF suggestion, seeing it as an opportunity "for partnering together on serious issues facing the University."