Monday, July 29, 2013

Medical School Salaries as Fundraising at Publicly Assisted Universities in Pennsylvania

The American Association of University Professors has noted a trend in salaries for medical school faculty.   Officials appear to be embracing a model where the salaries they set for faculty are not the salary medical schools are obligated to pay.  Instead, medical schools now appear to treat salary determinations more like fundraising goals--with the onus on faculty to find their salaries elsewhere, usually through grants that bring in not just faculty salaries but "overhead" payments to universities.
(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2013)

This post includes a recent discussion by the Pennsylvania AAUP of this practice at the University of Pittsburgh, "The University of Pittsburgh Medical School Abandons Commitments to Salaries Creates a Virulent Form of Post-Tenure Review".    Please let us know about any similar approaches to salary at your institution.

"The University of Pittsburgh Medical School Abandons Commitments to Salaries Creates a Virulent Form of Post-Tenure Review".

Dean Arthur Levine of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School has announced a new salary policy that provides for cumulative twenty percent cuts every year to the salaries of tenured, nonclinical faculty members who fail to secure certain levels of dollar amounts for the school through outside grants and other moneys. This money, the school states, will be used to offset significant proportions of their salaries and other costs. “The exact proportion of salary to be met by outside grants, according to the documents in our possession, may vary from faculty member to faculty member. Regardless of prior performance or long-term job expectations, a Chair may, at his or her discretion, give less weight to teaching, publications, quality of in-progress research than to federal grant awards [or other outside moneys].” Since tenured faculty members can be driven from their jobs by the relentless slashing of their salary this is, obviously, a particularly virulent form of post-tenure review. Post-tenure review is strictly enjoined by AAUP policy.

As indicated above, we have found almost no standards common to all. It appears that different standards can be set for each individual–a process which is, if true, wide open to favoritism, unequal evaluations, even capricious abuses of power. There appear to be no provisions that assure that all faculty members at the same place in their careers will be treated equally. From the documents that the Pennsylvania AAUP has attained it appears most likely that Deans and department chairs have almost unchecked latitude in whom to assign what standard; a latitude which would have a chilling effect on academic freedom and faculty governance.

We, furthermore, have evidence that some faculty have already been affected by the unequal application of this process.

Finally, AAUP standards regarding Medical Salaries require schools to offer support to its members at a level appropriate to faculty in the basic sciences. It is alleged that this policy will drop full-time tenured faculty salaries below any reasonable minimum level. In all of this, it appears, consultation with faculty has either been minor or non-existent. If these allegations are shown to be true, the PA-AAUP Executive Committee may place the University of Pittsburgh and its medical school on our “specially monitored” list as we follow the fate of its faculty, we will actively engage the administration, we will compile data and follow the “paper trail”, we will publicize that data relentlessly, and we have the option to refer the data to the national AAUP–the body of the AAUP that has the authority to censor, and, in extreme cases relating to faculty governance, sanction an institution.

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