U Washington Faculty Rejects Proposed Salary Reform

June 17, 2016

Faculty members at the University of Washington voted down a controversial plan to address salary compression, a common term for when junior faculty members make close to or more than what senior professors are paid due to changes in the market between points of hire. About 58 percent of eligible, full-time faculty members at Washington’s Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell campuses participated in the online vote; the tally was 1,328 for the plan and 1,356 against, with 58 abstentions. The initiative, which included a peer-approval mechanism for tiered and retention raises, needed a two-thirds majority of affirmative votes from those casting ballots to pass.

Gautham P. Reddy, a professor of radiology at Seattle and a member of the Washington Faculty Senate’s executive committee, said he agreed with the outcome. While faculty members in some schools and colleges would benefit from a new faculty salary policy, he said, “the proposal would not have worked well for some of our academic units, including the medical school, some of our other professional schools and our fast-growing campuses in Bothell and Tacoma.” The Senate is expected to continue working on salary compression issues next year.

Gail Stygall, a professor of English at the Seattle campus who supported the plan, said Washington knows salary compression is a serious concern, and that she hoped a feasible plan to address it would soon emerge. In the meantime, she said, “We’ll struggle onward.”

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