Metro State faculty members are voting this week and the week after next on whether to adopt a pay-for-performance plan that could be the first of its kind in the nation.
Because of the unprecedented nature of the vote, the Faculty Senate prepared the issue for a vote by the full faculty, not just the senate, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Curran told the Board of Trustees on Monday at a board study session on Pay for Performance.
Other colleges have some form of merit-based pay, but not on the scale that Metro State is considering. In the proposal under consideration, an amount equal to up to eight percent of faculty members’ salaries and benefits could be used to reward yearly those faculty members who perform at a high level. President Stephen Jordan and the Board of Trustees have set aside $2.1 million in the 2009 fiscal year for the Pay for Performance (P4P) program.
A two-pronged approach
Under the new P4P plan, tenured or tenure-track professors could get raises in two ways: a boost to their base salary (base-building) as well as an annual opportunity for a one-time bonus that would last a year (non-base-building). The increase to base salary would come from the money the state gives all employees every year, which is determined by the state and has varied historically between 0 and 3.5 percent. The non-base-building increase would come from the set-aside amount in the budget.
The P4P would determine pay increases on an annual review of professors’ performance in four areas: teaching, advising and student support, college and community service, and scholarship. Faculty members who meet or exceed the standards in each of these four areas would get the base raise, but only those who exceed standards would qualify for the non-base-building increase. The categories for achieving high-performance pay are: excellent, exceptional and extraordinary.
The faculty vote
Faculty are being asked to vote on whether they support the general P4P idea, and whether they believe faculty performance should be judged by department chairs, a college-wide P4P committee, or some combination of the two.
Faculty members will vote on the issue over a two-week period, ending Thursday, Nov. 29. The ballots are in paper form, and can be dropped in ballot boxes at each of the three deans’ offices or in the provost’s office. The exact dates for voting are Nov. 13-16 and Nov. 26-29; voting will not occur over the Thanksgiving week.
Assistant Professor of English Tat Sang So, who sits on the P4P Committee, points out that while the faculty vote is not binding, the Board of Trustees (whose vote is binding) expects to weigh the faculty vote in considering its final vote on the issue.
A months-long process
The faculty vote on P4P culminates a full year of work on the issue, which was originally proposed by Jordan in fall 2006. More than fifty faculty members engaged in the process of designing the program over the subsequent year, through work on various committees, and the services of consulting firm UM Global HR were retained to help design the system and assist the process. In addition, feedback from the Metro State community was sought through various forums during the fall 2007 semester, including at the Faculty Professional Development Conference, faculty senate meetings and open forums.
Jordan says that the P4P initiative exemplifies the process of shared governance spelled out in the Metro State Handbook for Professional Personnel. In a letter to Metro State faculty on Monday, Nov. 12, Jordan wrote: “I see the process of developing, discussing, and finally voting on this proposal as an important exercise in shared governance at Metro State. Regardless of whether you choose to support or reject Pay for Performance, I believe that our conscientious exercise of Shared Governance in this process constitutes a great success that will benefit Metro State for years to come.”
Curran said, “The process of designing pay for performance hasn’t been easy or straightforward; moreover, it’s not quite finished.”
Go to http://www.mscd.edu/facstaff/pfp/ to read more about P4P.
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