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Marshall has had ingredients needed to boost faculty's pie

Jan. 20, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

I sometimes wonder about the bakers in Marshall University's "kitchen." The head baker of MU's most recently established committee -- 20 such committees have come and gone before it -- tasked to come up with a recipe to bake a new faculty salary pie noted, almost apologetically, "There is simply not enough in the pie right now."

The same recipe was given on the pages of this newspaper in 1985 as we warmed the oven only to read: "It's the simple fact that the pie isn't big enough." Twenty-seven years have gone by and we haven't learned a thing about baking edible pastries. My, my.

Actually, ingredients are available only if you truly want the pie. There's certainly been no shortage of ingredients when it comes to baking for administrators, as evidenced by Mr. Rosenberger's article citing the president's pie increasing in size by 33.5 percent! And the enticingly sweet cinnamon aroma of presidential pie wafts across all administrative dessert plates. But sire, the faculty have no pie. Well then, let them eat crumbs (of 1.7 percent per annum).

Ah, but we need only to look for new "financial streams," the head baker says. Nonsense. Those ingredients (i.e., new "streams") have previously been made available. In 1983 West Virginia legislators, to their credit, instituted the Faculty Improvement Fee (FIF), an ingredient that, according to then House Education Committee Chairman Lyle Sattes, and WV Board of Regents Chancellor, Leon Ginsberg, would remedy the faculty salary issue, IF used in the manner the legislature intended (i.e., in the "faculty pie"). But university decision-makers "redirected" the FIF, resulting in no more pie for faculty, but (by coincidence?) much larger slices (called Annual Experience Increments) for administrators.

So, a plethora of studies and dedicated "financial streams" made available for faculty vs. no studies and no "streams" for administrators and yet we see today MU faculty salaries at the bottom of any peer group you wish to compare them with, whereas MU administrators enjoy salaries at the very top of their peer group counterparts. That's one awful bakery business model in my estimation (from, admittedly, a faculty pie fancier). Thus the relative salary pie outcomes (MU faculty vis-a-vis MU administrators) we see today did not happen by chance; the ingredients were carefully "redirected" and the baking rigorously guarded.

"In America...", writes former Indiana University professor and author Murray Sperber, "...money measures the value of work, so universities send clear signals with their pay scales." Thus the MU boards of '09 and again in '12 (just for emphasis), sent those unmistakably clear signals; the work done by MU administrators is highly valued, whereas the services provided by MU faculty have very little value, indeed.

Small wonder that legislators are expected to reduce state funding for MU, especially given the overt profligacy of the "redirectionists" whose actions increase the cost burden to both students and taxpayers with no value added educational benefit. It escapes no one that there has NEVER been an "administrative salary study" and yet THAT is the one most badly needed. (Somebody better check the oven of phony commitment, I smell pie burning).

James E. Joy is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Marshall University.

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