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UNC prepares for campus-wide review of faculty salary equity

Following up on a faculty salary equity study conducted on race and gender nine years ago, the University is preparing for another campus-wide review that will examine a wider variety of factors.

Laurie McNeil, chairwoman of the committee, said the survey will aim to broaden the categories reviewed to gauge salary disparities, including the time it takes to reach tenure and promotion and the quality of start-up packages for new faculty.

“The provost has specifically asked us to see how we have progressed since the 2002 study, to specifically make that comparison, and to make recommendations going forward to keep inequities from arising in the future,” McNeil said.

The current committee is charged not only with creating a more comprehensive study, but also with finding a realistic way to annually track salary disparities, said Ron Strauss, executive associate provost.

“There have been statistical looks at it, but the problem is it takes a lot of effort to know exactly what to measure and how to track this, and I don’t think that we’ve done that as effectively and consistently as we could have,” Strauss said.

Lynn Williford, assistant provost for institutional research and assessment, was part of the 2002 study and is a member of the committee. She said the committee is still trying to find a way to track changes each year, including the possibility of asking each department to make a database of the data from the current survey that could be referenced in the future.

During a meeting on Friday, committee members discussed how and when to submit data to department heads for a review of accuracy, and how to account for the stopping of tenure clocks so as not to skew the time it takes to reach tenure.

Formed in the fall of last year by the provost’s office, the committee has until the end of 2011 to submit its report, and will use public data on 2009 salaries from the University’s personnel database. Before analyzing this information, they will send faculty data to each department to review for accuracy.

Williford said she hopes to have this data ready for review by the end of March.

A deadline has not yet been set for a review of the information, but departments will probably have at least part of the summer to check the data, she said.

McNeil said the provost’s office has also offered its assistance, and that the committee will do its best not to place unreasonable demands on any department, especially the School of Medicine, which has a larger faculty than other departments.

Strauss said this survey will determine future raises and salaries, and is still important despite the budget cuts.

“There really aren’t any significant amount of raises going on, but that won’t always be the case, so it’s important to get in our minds what we would do if we had the money to do raises,” he said.

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