By Byron Hoskinson–
Oct. 21 was a busy meeting for the Arts & Sciences faculty assembly, as the group elected a new assembly chair and passed a resolution regarding faculty salary adjustments.
Outgoing assembly chair Andrew Rabin conducted the election of a new chair and parliamentarian. Karen Christopher, an associate professor in women and gender studies, was unanimously elected as chair. Dawn Heinecken, also from the WSG department, was elected parliamentarian. Both positions are for one-year terms.
Following the elections, the assembly addressed the issue of faculty salaries. The recently-formed A&S faculty salary committee brought the issue up, and was represented by women and gender studies professor Susan Jarosi. According to Jarosi, the college should have the opportunity to tailor its own salary plan.
The salary committee called for a resolution in support of A&S Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard’s proposal for the implementation of equity adjustments. Before voting, the committee also registered its “substantive concerns over the absence of joint planning and efforts between faculty and administration in the development of a university-wide, long-term salary equity adjustment plan.”
The resolution passed with 64 faculty voting for the measure, none against it and nine abstaining.
U of L faculty receive, on average, only 91 percent of the salaries granted to faculty at comparable universities, according to the results of a study on faculty salary summarized by Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Tracy Eells in a Nov. 2015 assembly meeting. The study also found A&S faculty to be the most underpaid relative to those in peer institutions.
In response to these findings, salary adjustments will begin in Jan. 2017.
Pinto took to the floor following the vote to have an open discussion about the U of L Foundation, potential changes to how the state allocates funds to the university and other public institutions and how tuition will be impacted in the near future.
According to Pinto, a new set of criteria determining how much state funding a university receives could soon be implemented, effectively basing 100 percent of the funds Kentucky allocates to U of L on performance-related metrics. Pinto also ensured the faculty assembly that tuition would not increase anytime soon.
No increase in tuition would create “a very stiff constraint under which we must do our planning,” Pinto said.
Pinto moved onto discussing transitions within the U of L Foundation’s board of directors. The board’s leadership is in the process of filling multiple vacancies and is also being affected by Gov. Matt Bevin’s unilateral decision to abolish the board of trustees, which a judge has ruled as beyond his gubernatorial powers.
This segued into the discussion to the topic of the university’s governance before Pinto’s closing remarks about U of L’s 2020 Plan. Pinto summarized a set of 32 initiatives implemented to reach goals set forth in the plan, a long-term development strategy that seeks to make U of L a “preeminent metropolitan research university” by 2020.
While Pinto lauded the progress already made towards the plan’s objectives, he emphasized the importance of developing opportunities for research.
“We need to pay more attention to the research part of our mission,” Pinto said.