Professors question pay

Professors are pressing GW officials to account for what they refer to as a sharp discrepancy in salary increases between faculty and top administrators.

Between 2001 and 2002, administrators received a 20 to 42 percent pay increase compared to about 4 percent for professors, according to statistics faculty members obtained from the Internal Revenue Service.

The Faculty Senate’s Executive Committee sent a letter to University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg last month to express their concern about the gap between professor and administrator pay.

According to a report from the Senate’s Appointment Salaries and Promotion Policies Committee, the average administrator’s pay has increased by 64.4 percent over the last five and a half years, while faculty salary has increased about 21 percent during the same time period.

Last semester, officials instituted a freeze on administrator and professor salaries to counter the effects of a national economic downturn.

A professor, who requested anonymity because she has yet to receive tenure, said GW should take cost of living in D.C. into account when determining faculty salary.

“It’s a scandal at George Washington,” she said.

Trachtenberg said it is “inappropriate” to compare professors’ and administrators’ salaries because “the difference reflects the fact that we’re in different jobs.”

“The letter is a form of advocacy,” he said. “The Senate wants to the faculty to be paid better. Me too, but the comparison is inappropriate.”

“We’re trying our best to raise faculty salaries,” he added. “We’re planing to announce a raise this spring, and we’re fully committed to keeping GW faculty salaries competitive.”

Last month, GW raised tuition by 5 percent, citing the need to pay faculty and staff salaries that they said would rise by an average of 4 percent next year.

Trachtenberg said he passed the Senate’s letter to Charles Manatt, chairman of GW’s Board of Trustees, but does not know when the University’s highest decision-making body will deliberate the issue. Manatt declined to comment Tuesday.

Murli Gupta, a mathematics professor and member of the Senate’s Appointment, Promotions and Salary Policy Committee, said the faculty would like an “articulated answer” about why faculty raises are stuck at 4 percent.

Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman said faculty pay raises are determined through a merit-based system related to the evaluations of faculty members in their annual reports. He said he gives the deans of individual schools “very specific” instructions on how to determine pay raises.

Lehman said the discrepancy between administrator and faculty pay could be due to skewed data but noted that his reasoning is only “conjecture.”

“It’s comparing apples and oranges,” he said. “If I were to pull out (the data) from the top- paid and performing administrators and do the same for the staff, you would probably see very similar statistics.”

According to the University’s tax returns, Trachtenberg topped the administrator pay list by earning $516,904 in 2001, the last year in which GW’s IRS forms are available. Several GW officials, including University provost John Williams and Executive Vice President and Treasurer Louis Katz, made more than $400,000.

The average salary for a full-time GW professor, not including medical faculty, was $103,314 in 2001.

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