UI faculty committee delivers 18 recommendations

UI faculty committee delivers 18 recommendations

URBANA — A University of Illinois faculty committee issued a report Monday outlining 18 recommendations on key topics, including more budget transparency, better communication about benefits and a multiyear strategy for boosting salaries.

The 14-member ad hoc committee met with administrators over the summer to discuss 10 key issues, such as promotion and tenure, salary equity and deferred maintenance of campus buildings.

The idea for the committee came about this spring following a campus debate on the merits of faculty unionization.

At the Academic Senate's debate on faculty unions earlier this year, UI Professor Randy McCarthy spoke in favor of organizing while UI Professor Nicholas Burbules outlined the reasons he was opposed to a faculty union.

The ad hoc committee was co-chaired by McCarthy and Burbules, as well as Professor Joyce Tolliver.

"We haven't really changed our views on the merits of unionization," Burbules said Monday.

Rather, "we wanted to move away (ourselves and campus) from divisive debate to the things we agree about. The things administration agreed with us about and how can we make progress on these issues of concern."

The idea was to come up with a string of recommendations that address concerns raised in recent years, such as how faculty are compensated and how they are promoted to tenure.

Topics addressed included salary, benefits, state pensions, other benefits, budget transparency, renovation and deferred maintenance, promotion and tenure, faculty advisory committee, and other shared governance issues.

The report's recommendations range from minor ones such as asking administrators to create and widely distribute a PDF booklet that summarizes benefits for faculty and asking that administrators visit the senate once a year to provide an overview of campus financials. Other recommendations were broader, such as establishing a faculty committee that works with administration on issues of compensation. Some of the recommendations would require Senate action; some would require administration action.

On the issue of salary, the committee said the campus should commit to a multiyear salary program to make faculty salaries more competitive with peer institutions. Burbules said those peers are defined at the departmental level. In addition, pay discrepancies, especially for faculty in the arts and humanities on campus, should be addressed, the report said. To realign salaries across the campus will require about $10 million, according to the report.

"It's very difficult because we have limited resources. We will not be able to do all these things without cutting other things. If we want something, it may be at the expense of other things," McCarthy said, adding that what is critical is faculty involvement.

"We need to be part of the discussion," he said.

The group proposed what it called a Compensation Review Committee, which would include professors and monitor the campus' progress toward bringing salaries in line with peer institutions.

McCarthy and Burbules will present their recommendations to the senate Monday. That body is expected to address it as a committee of the whole.

The report was delivered Monday to Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Provost Ilesanmi Adesida.