Guest Column: Salaries should keep up with the times

As many of you know, negotiations over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for tenure track faculty are underway, and have finally reached the issue of faculty salaries.  These negotiations, on this particular issue, began badly, with serious flaws, and in the opinion of some, should be reset and restarted — specifically for this issue.  Let’s examine the most recent administrative salary and use it for context.

This is what is publicly known about the New Provost’s Compensation Package (reported by DKS, Feb. 17, 2012):

$275,000     Salary


$25,000   Deferred Payment each year


$7,800   Automobile  Allowance

$307,800  Annual Pay

Additional Monetary Awards

$60,000   Moving Expenses

$20,000     House Construction/Purchase Allowance

It is a generally accepted norm that rising tides should raise all ships, and receding tides should lower all ships.  That’s the way it is in the natural world and according to universal scientific law.  

When fortunes are raising for an elite few, and those of the least positioned are sinking into the abyss, then that is only possible when the situation is being artificially and intentionally manipulated, with self-interest aforethought.

What is it about the thinking of those who leave the ranks of the faculty and staff and move into the administrative hierarchy?  

Does this result in a loss of ability to reason and think ethically; or are these faculties damaged in some unforeseen way during this transition; is the motive of extreme self-interest unconsciously activated; or could it possibly be all of the above; or is there some other malady, as of yet unidentified, that is responsible for this psychological, logical and ethical disconnect?

It is completely disingenuous for those negotiating for the administration over the new Tenure-Track Faculty Collective Bargaining Agreement to offer salary increases of:

– 1.5 percent across the board increase in the first year (the current year)

– 1 percent across the board increase in the second year

– 1 percent across the board increase in the third year, and

– 0 percent in merit increases over the life of the contract.

Additionally, they propose an increase in healthcare cost from 14% to:

– 15 percent for calendar year 2012 (despite the fact that the window for open enrollment for this period has long past)

– 17 percent for 2013, and

– 19 percent for 2014.

Likewise, it is completely and totally inadequate for AAUP-KSU’s Collective Bargaining Team to begin negotiations with an offer of: 3 percent increase to base for Academic Year 2011-2012; a 4 percent increase to base for Academic Year 2012-2013; a 3 percent increase to base for Academic Year 2013-2014…(and) Faculty Excellence Awards (FEA) equal to 4 percent of the base annual contract salaries for academic year 2012-2013 to be awarded during Academic Year 2013-2014.

To end up where we are headed in these negotiations is to end up with what is essentially a salary cut, given the rising costs of inflation.  

What we need is an honest salary increase to actually keep pace with the cost of living, and the same kind of bonuses, incentives and merit pay with which administrators are very familiar.  

Faculty, and this is true for the staff at this university as well, do not receive a discount in rent or mortgage; they do not receive a discount in their utility bills; nor do they receive a discount in their groceries or the tuition they pay for their children to attend the various schools where they are enrolled; etc.

When you consider the perks that administrators get (again, look above at those received by the new provost), along with salaries in the extreme (and I do not begrudge them for good paying jobs — we all expect and deserve those), the misery and discontent index becomes sharply focused, and visible for all to see.  These types of disparities and inequities lead not only to low morale, but psychological states and ethical situations that are both unhealthy and immoral. They are also politically indefensible, and antisocial at base.

What has emerged in our nation and now reflected on our campuses is economic feudalism and plutocracy — systems that enlightened and civil societies and associations left behind in the Medieval Period.  

The most recent systems witnessed in American history which are analogous to what has surfaced in this country, and is rising on the campuses of American universities, including our own, were the plantation and peonage systems of the south.  

This is the essence of the contemporary conflict between the 1 percent and the 99 percent.

For either side to negotiate this type of deal where salaries are depressed and the faculty become increasingly responsible for the cost of insurance and other benefits, is to completely ignore “duty” in this matter, and to blatantly ignore the will and needs of employees, and our particular financial situation at this university.  

Our goal should be to close the salary gap between the faculty and administration, not send it on a perpetual course of expansion.

The needs of the faculty and staff, because of their less privileged state, are greater than those of administrators.  

Administrators are not an entitled group, deserving of privileged status. The obligations of koinonia (a Judaic-Christian-Islamic concept of generous sharing) are binding on the economic elite, as well as the grassroots.  The economic elite does not get exempted from moral and social responsibility.

This is an appeal to both sides in this negotiation, to take both salary offers off the table and settle on one, relative to administrators, that is fair, equitable, just and reasonable.

Dr. George R. Garrison

Professor, Pan African Studies