Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Regarding merit pay for faculty, I’d like us to slow down and to think carefully about the following points.

First, I am not aware of compelling empirical data supporting the assumption that merit increases will serve as an incentive for faculty to be more productive.

Second, assuming that a percentage increase in base salary is an incentive, will an increase of any size, 2-4 percent for example, be sufficient or will the increase have to be somewhere in the vicinity of 10-20 percent? Also, given the limited funds available for salary increases, will a merit system result in lower across-the-board increases?

Third, we have tenure to maximize academic freedom. Merit pay could easily undermine the raison d’etre of tenure. Who will decide who gets a merit increase? Will it be principally the administration, one’s peers in the discipline, or faculty from other disciplines? Can this system be used by the administration to reward faculty who toe the line and penalize dissenters?

Fourth, if the merit increase is a percentage, the gap between the highest and lowest paid members of the faculty will increase. If we go to a merit system, it may be fairer to award a fixed amount.

Fifth, the bases on which a merit increase will be decided will vary and not be an easy task even within departments. For example, what counts for more, a textbook or an article in a refereed journal? In my discipline, typically the article counts for much more, but at La Verne, they may be equivalent or the textbook may count for more – thereby sending the wrong message to young scholars, as would a model that assigns the same or comparable percentage to service as it does research.

Sixth, disagreement on criteria may lead to distrust and hostility between colleagues, especially in instances where the contributions of individuals are similar, yet one receives a merit increase and the other does not. This system could replace collaboration with competition, community with the individual, and morale may be lowered as a consequence.

Seventh, we as a faculty, at least in the College of Arts and Sciences, have lamented the business model, versus an educational model, employed by the university. Shared governance has been one of its victims. Can we have it both ways, i.e., decry business models, yet support something as corporate as merit pay? I urge my colleagues to slow down.

Hector Delgado
Professor of Sociology

Hector Delgado
Other Stories

Latest Stories

Related articles

ULV gathers to honor Lieberman’s tenure

A large community of trustees, staff, alumni, faculty and students came together Wednesday to honor and thank President Devorah Lieberman for her 12 years of leadership to the University of La Verne, and to wish her well as she embarks on a new chapter in her life.

Lieberman shares life story in final lecture

University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman presented “Stringing the Pearls,” where she reflected on the lessons learned throughout her life, at the Quay Davis Executive Board Room at noon on Tuesday. 

ULV raises nearly $2 million at Gala

University of La Verne mascots Leo and Lea greet guests of the Scholarship Gala at The Rock on Saturday.

University to pay $8.9 million in tuition settlement

The University of La Verne has agreed to pay $8.9 million to students who were a part of the class action lawsuit that called for a partial refund of tuition and fees for the spring 2020 semester.