Distribution of 3.5 percent pool to be based on recent individual performance
THE SANTA CLARA
May 14, 2015
As newly-recruited Santa Clara faculty shoulder the burden of exploding housing costs in the Bay Area, the administration is working to bridge the gap between the cost of living and university salaries.
Since 2008-2009, Santa Clara faculty salary increases have not kept up with the rising cost of living in Bay Area, according to English Professor Diane Dreher, president of the Santa Clara chapter of the American Association of University Professors.
“I have heard many reports from assistant professors who have said ‘I don’t know if I can afford to live here’ and ‘I don’t know if I can stay here,’ which is one reason why we put housing as one of our major concerns,” Dreher said.
According to information compiled by the Santa Clara chapter of the AAUP, Santa Clara tenure-track faculty salaries lost nearly 4 percent in buying power, or the ability to purchase goods and services, between the 2008-09 and 2012-13 academic years. At the same time, the mean salaries of top administrators increased by 6 percent (inflation adjusted) between 2008 and 2013.
“Unless you have a spouse in the tech industry, it is very hard to purchase a single-family home if you are a single parent earner at the university,” said Michael Kevane, associate Economics professor.
The administration is now taking steps to increase faculty salaries. In the budget for the 2015-2016 academic year, the board of trustees approved a 3.5 percent merit pool to be allocated towards faculty and staff salaries, which will be given out on the basis of student evaluation scores, research endeavors and participation in campus groups and committees, among other factors.
“Some faculty members will see more than a 3.5 percent merit increase, and others might see less than a 3.5 percent increase, depending on recent individual performance,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Dennis Jacobs said in an email. “Overall, the merit increase across all faculty salaries, on average, will be 3.5 percent.”
Economics professor William Sundstrom said that younger faculty face incredibly high housing prices that older faculty did not experience many years ago. Sundstrom himself purchased a house in Palo Alto 22 years ago, which has ballooned in value over the past several years.
“I’m sitting on this huge amount of wealth that I’ve accumulated just by buying a house 22 years ago,” Sundstrom said. “Meanwhile, we hire a new faculty (member), someone fresh out of a PhD program, and they come here and they have no assets, they are looking at houses that are one to two million dollars for an entry level house.”
The Board of Trustees also approved a sum of money to be distributed to faculty for either promotion increases or market adjustments, which ensures that faculty salaries are competitive with those of faculties at competitor universities. These funds will be given on top of merit increases in salary.
“The 4.7 percent average increase for [Santa Clara] faculty salaries is well ahead of the Bay Area Consumer Price Index, which saw a 2.7 percent increase in the 2014 calendar year, the most recent year recorded by the CPI,” Jacobs said.
Kevane and Dreher said they welcome the increase in faculty salaries, but that they hope this progress will continue.
Administrator salaries at Santa Clara are competitive in hiring at a national level, in comparison to administrator salaries at comparable institutions, according to Kevane. However, faculty salaries are not competitive for hiring faculty at that same level.
By boosting faculty salaries, he said, Santa Clara would more easily achieve its aspirations to move from a regional university to a nationally recognized university.
“It’s not just about having a nationally recognized sports team, it’s about having a nationally recognized faculty,” Kevane said. “It’s very hard to for us to recruit faculty when they see that salaries are lower than for us to outcompete our comparable schools. To move up we will have to invest more in faculty.”
According to Jacobs, the information compiled by the AAUP does not take into account the overall average increase in faculty salaries over the past several years.
“A more comprehensive analysis of faculty salaries over the same period of time shows that the average faculty salary increase has indeed exceeded inflation,” Jacobs said.
The administration is also working to improve their rental assistance program and home purchase assistance programs for tenure-track and tenured faculty, which subsidize rental payments and assist with paying off mortgage loans.
Contact Sophie Mattson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4849.