University should release faculty salaries
The Observer Staff Editorial
When Notre Dame English professor Valerie Sayers received a dramatic and unexpected salary increase, she was elated at first. Then, she started wondering why she got the increase.
Was it because of outstanding work she had accomplished? Was it because Notre Dame, in an attempt to make salaries between males and females more equitable, dramatically increased women's pay so the females could catch up with the men?
Or did the pay increase leave Sayers' salary still behind that of her equally-qualifiedequally qualified male colleagues?
Sayers never knew. And that's a problem.
According to a story published in Friday's Observer, the University traditionally does not reveal information about faculty salaries. Although the Office of Institutional Research publishes averages for the entire University, that doesn't help faculty in specific colleges or departments who wonder if their salaries are equitable to what their colleagues make. And so, when it comes time to negotiate a salary increase, faculty are left in the dark because they don't know how fairly they are being treated — or even if they are being treated fairly at all.
The easiest solution for the University is to publish salary averages by departments and gender. This would avoid embarrassing individual employees who do not want their salaries made public while at the same time giving professors some idea of how their salary relates to others in their department. The benefits — for both sides — would be huge. For the University, which claims it is making huge strides in gender equity when it comes to payroll, publishing salaries would show it is keeping its word. For the faculty, knowing what their colleagues make gives disgruntled professors peace of mind because they know their pay is equitable to that of their fellow professors.
But instead of having information available, female professors are forced to complain amongst themselves of perceived inequity in informal groups like WATCH. The cloud of secrecy cast over salary-related issues leaves many female professors wondering if their pay is equitable to that of their male counterparts and what the standards are for earning a raise. By publishing salary averages from individual departments and a standard on which increases are earned, the University could go a long way to establishing a better relationship with all of its professors — both female and male.
All Viewpoint Stories for Friday, May 2, 2003