The University Record, January 10, 1994

LETTERS

‘I wouldn’t have believed it ’

If I hadn’t read it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it (Dec. 1 memorandum on sexual harassment on campus from Elsa Cole, University General Counsel).

Justice O’Conner (sic), in a majority opinion, apparently proposed a standard for sexual harassment which Justice Scalia, in a concurring opinion, finds is the best we can do, and can think of no alternative that is “more faithful to the inherently vague statutory language.”

Building upon this rock solid foundation, the University issues a sigh of relief, secure in the knowledge that “such vagueness is unavoidable and does not affect the (University) policy’s enforceability.”

Where are you Swift, Moliere and Twain, now that we need you?

Sylvan Kornblum,
professor of psychology

Misleading statistics?

I have not been disturbed about the salary increases for administrators that have been declaimed by the newspapers in recent days. I think it’s important that faculty members not feel exploited financially, but I believe that the major rewards in our profession are those that come from the satisfaction of seeing students achieve higher levels of learning as well as the intellectual stimulation of students, colleagues and one’s own research.

Nonetheless, I was distressed to see in the University Record of December 13th the article headed “Percent of Increase in Salary Close for Faculty, Administrators” with a table showing salary program comparisons of Ann Arbor faculty as compared with Ann Arbor deans and executive officers. The first paragraph of the article says “compensation increases for Ann Arbor campus tenure track faculty this year averaged 5.43 percent. This compares with the 5.85 percent for academic administrators and 5.06 percent for other staff.”

Assuming that the 5.43 and 5.85 referred to the table alongside the news article, I looked at the table and immediately saw that these figures could not be true. It appears that there was either a deliberate or inadvertent attempt to minimize the discrepancies. As I compute the averages from the table, the mean salary increases for faculty are 5.6 and for deans and executive officers 6.8 percent. I suspect that the figures of 5.43 and 5.85 are medians, a statistic which minimizes the impact of extremes, such as the four administrative raises over 12 percent. I became even further disturbed when I read the footnote and found that three newly appointed individuals had been omitted from the distribution for executive officers, since I presume that these three are Vice Presidents Womack, Whitaker and Harrison. It is likely that including their salary increases would have made the discrepancy even greater.

I have no information leading me to distrust the Regents’ judgment with respect to the merit of the salary increases for deans and executive officers, but I do object to what appears to be an attempt to defuse the controversy by misleading statistics.

Wilbert J. McKeachie, professor
emeritus of psychology and research scientist emeritus, Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.

Editor’s Note: Placement of the table comparing faculty and deans’ and executive officers’ compensation increase levels alongside the article on page 1 was perhaps misleading, but not intentionally so. The table was not related to any numbers cited in the article on page 1.

The 5.43 percent average increase number for faculty and the 5.85 percent figure for academic administrators are found in tables that appeared on page 12, identified at the bottom of the tables as ‘Cont. Staff Ave.’ The tables are labeled 1993–94 Instructional Salary Increase Distribution and 1993–94 Academic Administrative Salary Increase Distribution.

In addition, the individuals omitted from the distribution for executive officers referenced in the page 1 table are Walter Harrison, vice president for university relations; Homer A. Neal, vice president for research; and Allen J. Samuels, dean of the School of Art.

Astronomer accomplishes feat

The interesting article on Algol, the eclipsing Demon Star, in the Dec. 13 Record makes it seem that Professor Richard G. Teske of the Department of Astronomy has astonishing powers of levitation: “Hanging nearly overhead in mid-evening, Teske says it is the most famous of all eclipsing stars.” I am not sure whether I should chide you for inattentive editing, or thank you for one of the most entertaining examples of a dangling participle that I have ever encountered.

Mary C. Crichton,
associate professor of German