University of Washington Seeks to Keep Top Faculty with Fair Pay

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University of Washington professors voted for fair faculty pay in a 47 to 29 vote last month. The proposed plan would fix the issue where new assistant professors earn close to or even more than long-time educators. It’s called salary compression, and it’s an issue across most of academia and a major problem at UW. The good news is that UW is looking to fix the complicated problem.

Susan Astley, a Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Washington, spoke about the issue in an article with Inside Higher Ed. “You have a difficult time retaining your full professors if your salary just doesn’t progress—and that does happen here,” she said. “The university has a national reputation that you’ll be hired in at a good salary, but then you’ll never again see a good raise. That information makes it difficult to attract professors, too.”

Currently, faculty at the University of Washington only have two opportunities for a raise: upon promotion and for Merit, which is approximately a 2% increase each year. Unfortunately, those raises barely keep up with the cost of living increase. That’s why the new plan is so important. It proposes the addition of new “tiers” within the faculty rank system so that professors don’t have to wait for rare jumps in tenure to get a raise.

The plan would allow for professors to apply for a new salary tier about every four years. The tiers would be merit-based and available across all departments. The raises would vary and be capped at 8%, regardless of discipline. This new plan would help the University keep its highly valued faculty since they’ll no longer have to seek outside job offers to earn more money.

In addition, the University of Washington would make the tier raises public, where they’re voted on and approved by members of the applicants’ own department, so that professors are discouraged from seeking outside offers by witnessing the retention process.

“This is designed not to cost the university more in salaries, but specifically to redistribute the existing available dollars for promotion, the vast majority of which are going toward retention for a handful of faculty stars,” Astley said.


About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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