Faculty Workplace Inequities Deserve Scrutiny, Action

If Emory does not address the pay discrepancies and roadblocks facing its faculty, the University will struggle to retain talented professors and academic life will suffer.

In October 2013, then-Provost Claire E. Sterk and Executive Vice President for Business Administration Michael Mandl charged the Class and Labor: Faculty Committee with conducting a University-wide review of faculty pay, workplace satisfaction and professional development opportunities, among other factors. Last month, the Office of the Provost released a 12-page executive summary of the committee’s report to the Emory community. The Office of the Provost and Steering Committee denied the Wheel’s request to release the full report, citing possible future data collection.

The summary reveals that Emory’s faculty salaries, adjusted for cost of living, are low compared to those of faculty at Emory’s peer institutions, and that female faculty both hold fewer leadership positions and face pay disparities. There are also pay disparities between ethnic/racial minorities and white faculty members. Competitive salaries help the University attract and retain accomplished professors who will guide academic progress for decades to come. If those disparities continue, we risk losing more prominent professors to rival universities who are willing to issue larger checks.

Furthermore, the summary reports that Emory has an increased reliance on non-tenure track (NTT) faculty. In addition, the summary includes reports of second-class treatment experienced by NTT faculty compared to tenured faculty. Both issues underscore a multilevel problem. Tenure status provides job protection, which promotes academic freedom in research and publishing and allows faculty to discuss unpopular views in the classroom without fear of dismissal. NTT status deters faculty from remaining at any institution, reducing longterm mentorship opportunities for students and endangering the stability of academic departments and academic progress. According to the summary, both tenured and NTT faculty feel they lack adequate professional resources, including mentorship opportunities and knowledge of expectations and processes required for promotion.

If Emory wants to remain a top institution, we should rethink our hiring practices, offer more tenure opportunities with more explicit guidelines and decrease our reliance on NTT faculty.

No school can survive without its professors. The backbone of our academic strength is the scholarship and research of our diverse faculty. Students rely on excellent professors to teach them lessons that they will use throughout their lives; our administration must properly support its faculty.

We applaud the recommendations made by the Committee which emphasize mentorship for faculty regardless of tenure status, various measures for equalizing opportunities and pay for women and minority faculty and call for a streamlined process for promotion and mentorship.

But those recommendations are futile if they are not implemented.

We implore the Office of the Provost and the Office of Business and Administration to release the full report to the Emory community, as they did with the 2013 Class and Labor report on non-academic staff. We are often taught by the University to question our environment, to remain perpetually curious. If the University wants to uphold its own standards, it should release the full report so the Emory community can scrutinize how our school treats its own workforce.

0 comments