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The Cal Poly Academic Senate passed a resolution on faculty, staff and management compensation in front of Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong on Tuesday, saying faculty and staff salary raises have not been significant. The Senate also proposed a suspension of hiring management until tenure density increases to 75 percent and the student-faculty ratio is reduced to 18:1.
The resolution also said some administration salaries and raises are a significant percent larger than those of others, as well as noting a decreased tenured/tenure-track faculty-to-student ratio and an increased administrator-to-student ratio.
“The request is that in each year the raises for the administrators should not be higher than average GSI (general salary increase) for staff and faculty,” Academic Senate member and history professor Manzar Foroohar said. “If we are going to reallocate state funds in this university, we should be applying them to the recruitment of faculty.”
Most faculty members who expressed their opinions in the meeting were strongly in favor of the resolution. English professor Kevin Clark, who started teaching at Cal Poly in the late 1980s, said he had never before seen the amount of anger and resentment that currently exists on campus.
“The president and the provost repeatedly tell us that faculty salaries are their No. 1 priority, yet at the so-called listening session the provost attended at the CLA just last week, she admitted that yes, much of the money going to upper administrators hired since President Armstrong’s arrival could have gone to faculty salaries,” Clark said. “How can the president and the provost assert that faculty salaries are their first priority when they admit that these myriad hires are taking funds that could have gone to faculty in the first place?”
Despite enrollment increases over the past couple of years, the amount of tenured and tenure-track faculty has decreased. The Academic Senate is requesting a tenure density of 75 percent and, according to Academic Senate Chair Gary Laver, Armstrong expressed that 75 percent may even be too low.
Another issue addressed was the ratio of administrative costs per student, one of the highest compared to other CSU campuses. Faculty suggested the problem is hiring too many administrators and that the cost of those hires are weighed too greatly.
“I think there is this narrative that we are hearing that this is relatively new as a problem and that we need to give the administration time, and I disagree,” English professor Catherine Waitinas said. “(Money) is simply being allocated towards administration instead of towards faculty.”
After the resolution passed, Armstrong held a Q&A meeting with faculty members. Faculty showed their concern for the lack of faculty being hired and their pay.
“If you look at the faculty perspective, we not only need to increase the pay, we need to increase the number,” Armstrong said. “The fact remains, we need to hire additional faculty and we need to pay our faculty better. That’s very, very clear.”
Though Armstrong claimed his goals were the same as faculty members, faculty remained frustrated with the administration’s hiring approach.
“It seems that a lot of these hiring and salary decisions have been accumulating in isolation and have not been driven by some kind of strategic planning,” architecture professor and former Academic Senate Chair Bruno Giberti said. “As a faculty member who has been conspicuously taking a lot of new responsibilities, I see all of those salaries changing every time a responsibility changes, but my salary is stuck where it is, and it’s been there for years and it’s not going to change.”
Armstrong said the university needs “game-changing pots of money.” If received, that money could possibly be allocated toward faculty salary raises, though Armstrong also mentioned a need for replacing old buildings.