12 February 2020
To: Mr. Dan Cardell, Chair, Board of Trustees; Dr. Paul Adams, Interim President; Cc: Dr. Gergory Cant, President Elect
Re: Proposed 2020-2021 Compensation and Salary Reductions
The Wilkes University chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) objects to the recently announced across-the-board salary reduction of one percent with an additional four percent reduction in the University’s retirement contribution. While we absolutely recognize the urgency and magnitude of our current budget challenge, we urge Wilkes leadership to consider a stepped model of salary and TIAA contribution reductions, with those employees making $40,000 or less protected from both of these cuts and those making above $150,000 taking larger cuts in salary and TIAA contributions. This model would follow our raise-based-on-income practice implemented in recent years.
The AAUP agrees that this year’s enrollment shortfall, stemming from our Admission’s Office recent mismanagement under previous senior leadership, has affected our financial position. However, while the Spring 2020 Convocation Address also cited faculty and staff growth versus enrollment as a factor in the deficit, the percentage of annual expenses attributed to non-administrative salaries has declined from 33.6% in 2011 to 31.5% in 2018. During that same time period, there has been substantial growth in administrative positions (32% in the last five years, according to our 2019 Fact Book), with new Deans, Associate Provosts, and other positions.
The AAUP believes that across-the-board compensation cuts will further imperil our future. Having academic and support faculty pay for poor leadership decisions is not a sustainable model of campus governance. Faculty recruitment and retention could be affected, for example, if Wilkes TIAA contributions lower to the proposed 4%, less than half that of the current contributions of Misericordia University (9%) and King’s College (8.5%) to their employees’ retirement. The proposed cuts also place an unfair burden on our Staff, many of whom are among the lowest paid, yet will feel the impact in the most immediate and most significant way.
The President’s Cabinet absorbing the largest salary and compensation cuts would be an important step toward rebuilding respect for and trust in that leadership. Further savings could be explored in contracts with third-party vendors and eliminating some administrative positions.
We further urge the Board and President to ensure that during the Academic Portfolio Review Committee’s work with Campus Labs, faculty of potentially affected departments be part of any decision that involves changes to that department, as academic delivery decisions rest primarily with faculty in shared governance (as our Faculty Handbook notes).
We must not lose what makes Wilkes unique and appealing to students. Faculty are deeply invested in our continued growth, but without being included as partners in good faith, we cannot ensure that success. We the Faculty will continue to work at doing what we do best – bringing excitement and discovery into the classroom, the lab, the field, the stage, the art studio, and the concert hall, and sharing with our students our knowledge, our enthusiasm and our passion for learning.
Wilkes AAUP Chapter Officers
Dr. Justin Matus, President– Associate Professor of Business & Leadership
Dr. Mischelle Anthony, Vice President– Associate Professor / Chair of English
Dr. Ernie Trujillo, Secretary– Associate Professor of Chemistry
Dr. Helen Davis, Treasurer–Associate Professor of English
Dr. John Gilmer, Member-At-Large–Associate Professor of Engineering
Dr. Philip Simon, Member-At-Large–Associate Professor of Music, Emeritus
The Wilkes Administration Responds: