The University Record, November 5, 1996
ASSEMBLY ROUNDUP . . .
CESF has two tasks: compare with peers, draft compensation policy
By Jane R. Elgass
In a preliminary report to Senate Assembly last week, Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty (CESF) chair Frank B. Livingston told the group that CESF has two tasks this year.
The first is to update statistical comparisons with peer institutions, which he hopes can be simplified into graphic representations and tailored to individual units.
He said the group also hopes to draft a Universitywide compensation policy and have it available by spring.
One of the problems inherent in drafting a Universitywide policy is the U-M's decentralization, he noted. "It's difficult to come up with something that's uniform across units, but there should be some uniformity."
Elements the policy might incorporate include:
A strong component of peer evaluation in evaluations for promotion and salary increases.
Written evaluations. "That's just good business practice."
Published criteria for evaluation.
Established procedures for review of any compensation suggested that would be outside some range.
A Universitywide timetable for evaluations.
There also are other issues facing CESF, and Livingston called on Assembly members to provide input. These include:
Making faculty compensation a priority in the budget such as, for example, making the increase in the cost of living a minimum for average increases.
Examining the "loyalty tax" in which long-term full professors are paid less than those in the lower ranks.
Examining the "market factors" that affect faculty compensation.
Reviewing the practice of awarding bonuses or "at risk" pay to some individuals, which is becoming a more widespread practice. These, he said, gives administrators control of certain activities by saying "I'll give you this if you do that."
By Jane R. Elgass
A discussion on executive officer compensation at Senate Assembly last week almost fizzled before it began, when, initially, no one would come forth with questions or comments.
The discussion was prompted by employment agreements made with some executive officers by former President James J. Duderstadt before he stepped down last June.
Assembly members agreed that there should be some sort of faculty input in situations such as this. "All of us are uncomfortable," said one member. "Are plans or procedures being developed to avoid inappropriate packages?"
Provost J. Bernard Machen, who earlier had delivered the provost's annual address to the Assembly, said the "situation was the result of an unfortunate set of circumstances" and that a policy that would be publicly stated is being developed.
"I've suggested that there be faculty input," he said of the need for some sort of a standard.
"Most of those involved had no idea what was going on," he explained, adding that he has recommended that such a policy not go below the executive officers.
One member noted that the situation "has harmed the University in many ways," and that some individuals "have been tremendously hurt by this because they became lightning rods for anger. How do we deal with this?" he asked.
Machen said that administrators "have to take it as well as dish it out. None of us had any idea of what was going on with the others. Some were very hurt and there are people leaving the University because of it. It is a real shame."
Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs chair Thomas Dunn noted that the primary concerns expressed in e-mail that he received on executive officer compensation were the secrecy, what were viewed as excessive leaves, and comparisons with Fortune 500 executives.
Responding to a comment about having heard "rumors of more revelations of things along this line," Machen said he has learned from this experience that "everything is FOIAable"---that all documents, even e-mail, can be requested by anyone under the Freedom of Information Act.
The discussion then shifted to faculty and administrative compensation in general, with Machen noting that the University "is embarking on a fundamental discussion" about its tradition of merit-based pay and the concept of using compensation in a manipulative way. He also noted that "peer review should be the determinator of merit," not administrative review.
To a complaint about faculty input merely being "advisory," Machen replied that "at some point you need to buy in to the system," which the Assembly already has done with its reviews of deans and executive officers.
He said he felt that the dean's reviews were not a reliable system and that the reappointment review done by the administration is more sensitive. The Assembly reviews, he added, "are more valuable as feedback," rather than evaluative, adding that "feedback is essential and can be helpful."
Commenting on the loss of trust between the administration and the Regents, Machen said "the last 14 months have been very uncomfortable."
He noted that the presidential search is going well and that the Presidential Search Advisory Committee included faculty. "We must listen to the faculty and pay attention to their values.
The widening gap, he said, is an "interpersonal problem" and the Regents will have to "pick the candidate they can most trust. We have an activist group of Regents, they are on campus a lot and they want to be involved. The paradigm has shifted."
One Assembly member commented that over the past 20 years, the administration has become increasingly professionalized and that this "is indicative of why there is such cynicism" regarding compensation. "The administration is overvalued and there appears to be no counter-leveling force. Is there any way to redress this?"
Machen stated that "the faculty is the University," adding that with Senate Assembly and governance organizations in 19 units, "the faculty does not have a single voice. It needs to be united."
Most faculty "don't want to do administrative work," he said. "The issue is whether the values of the faculty are cared for."
With respect to the appointment of Information Technology Division (ITD) administrators who have never taught, Machen noted that ITD "is big business. You have to go to the marketplace and [administrators] cost a ton. However the alternative is more scary. The University is a top 100 company and we do better by having professionals to help us make the best decisions."
Following his address to Senate Assembly last week, Provost and Executive Vice President J. Bernard Machen took part in a question-and-answer session with Assembly members. Among the topics covered:
How can faculty governance be involved in providing input to the president?
Faculty governance at the U-M, Machen noted, is decentralized. The Assembly is the only arena. He believes unit-specific governance organizations should be integrated with the Assembly. "The split," he said, "inhibits coordination among faculty. You need to consider ways to make the interface you."
How will the "negatives" of Value Centered Management (VCM), such as unit conflicts, be handled?
Machen said decisions must be made by the faculty, that faculty-to-faculty "is the best avenue to pursue" and then dean-to-dean as the next step up the ladder. He said, "faculty involvement in the process will be lost if situations have to be adjudicated in the Provost's Office," adding that three committees are now working on VCM. They are the Provost's Advisory Committee on the University Budget, the Office of the Vice President for Reseach's Faculty Committee on VCM and Research Excellence and the Faculty Oversight Committee.
As to the fear that graduate education might suffer under VCM, Machen said, "We need strong and vibrant graduate education here. It's not expected that money will be taken out of graduate education."
Faculty are evaluated on their production of
journal articles and books.
Should the development of innovative products be added to this mix?
Machen said he would be "cautious" about recommending this to junior faculty on the tenure track. "Teaching does count. Curriculum development does not take the place of scholarship and research and should be reflected in teaching evaluations."
How can teaching be assessed?
Machen is "a strong advocate of the use of a multiple set of criteria," and feels that student evaluations of faculty are being misused. They are meant to provide feedback to individual faculty on how they are doing, he said, not as a tool for evaluation. He added that the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching will help faculty at all levels, not just teaching assistants or new assistant professors, with their teaching portfolios.