October 26, 2000

Arts Faculty Passes Resolution Requesting Increase in Salary

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Faculty in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences have asked that Dean Philip E. Lewis correct professorial salary disparities over five years and respond annually to the faculty on the state of the plan.

The resolution was approved at the first faculty meeting yesterday in Goldwin Smith Hall. Members of the ad hoc Faculty Salary Committee had presented a longer resolution at the meeting on which faculty members debated and then revised.

This summer, President Hunter R. Rawlings III and the Board of Trustees announced a five-year plan to raise the average salary of professors to the average salary at peer institutions. The plan, however, does not focus on individual earnings, leaving discretion in that area to the dean of each college.

Committee member Prof. Karen Woodward Brazell, Asian studies, noted that, in less than two decades, average salaries at Cornell tumbled from among the top ten of peer institutions to somewhere in the twenties.

“We were very upset; we thought that we were promised an increase,” Brazell said at the meeting. “After all, look where we are – sixth, seventh in intellectual standing.”

The ad hoc committee has been working with the administration for the past year and, in September, Rawlings held a question and answer session with faculty in the arts college.

Lecturers expressed reservations at the September session because the plan primarily addresses tenured professors.

“The disparities at this time are most pronounced at the full-professorial level,” said Prof. Paul Sherman, neurology and behavioral science. “This was gathered for a very specific purpose for a very specific goal.”

Sherman presented a resolution to faculty that would set up a nine-person standing committee to implement the faculty salary plan. Some faculty members, however, felt that department chairs should represent professors in distributing salaries.

“It strikes me as a vote of no confidence in the chairs,” said Prof. Peter LePage, chair of the physics department, who proposed removing the clause from the resolution. “[For] detailed implementation, I suggest you give us a chance.”

“I find it, as a chair, very useful to have someone defining who should get the money … but I don’t think that this micro-management of it will be very helpful,” said Prof. Harry Shaw, English.

The faculty approved removing 26 lines from the resolution.

“All directions that we have received from the central administration suggest that there is a need to focus on full-professor salaries,” said Lewis. “We will basically be proceeding in full harmony of the committee.”

Lewis also expressed his agreement to the addition of a clause which requires he report to the college the status of the salary plan. “This is a major and different procedure we are undertaking,” he said.

Archived article by Beth Herskovits