Faculty committee considers new early retirement policy, salary increases

Due to low attendance and lack of suggestions from attending faculty members, the chair of the Faculty Compensation Committee (FCC), government and law professor Helena Silverstein, instead chose to focus on the research they have been doing on retirement policies during Tuesday’s open meeting.

The meeting is typically held to gather feedback from faculty members outside of the committee on the faculty compensation package.

With the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting in May, most budget issues have already been finalized for fiscal year 2021. Part of the college’s strategic direction, approved by the Board of Trustees in 2016, includes making faculty salaries more competitive. One of the FCC’s main responsibilities is advising the college on salary increases and changes in the compensation package for faculty members.

“[The FCC’s] primary role is to provide a report to the [Faculty Academic Policy Committee] on what the salary increases should be, are our salaries competitive in the market, [and] the total compensation package,” said Vice President of Finance and Administration Roger Demareski. “They’ll give their findings to [Faculty Academic Policy Committee], who will give the administration significant advice.”

Silverstein noted that they are still in the beginning stages of the research and are not yet “making any recommendations one way or the other.” Currently, the committee is researching policies at comparable institutions, and even reaching out to other school’s to find out what has worked and what hasn’t.

“[We are looking at] the kinds of retirement policies at institutions that are comparable to Lafayette, what kinds of policies they have and whether those policies might be worth looking into for this institution, [and] what kind of costs and benefits that are associated with these policies,” she said. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we’re just looking at the various wheels that are out there and then think about what might or might not work for Lafayette.”

In consideration are an early retirement program, which would offer faculty incentives to retire, and a phased program, which would allow faculty to “phase themselves into retirement” with a reduced teaching load and reduced compensation that is commensurate to their teaching load. Currently, an early retirement incentive is in place for staff of the college.

Silverstein also noted that other schools have implemented a combination of these methods, and that there are a variety of strategies that could be adopted.

In addition to benefiting faculty members, Silverstein said that new retirement policies could also benefit the school financially, as professors who have been at the school for longer tend to be making more money.

Overall, Silverstein said that the two primary goals of the committee in determining their recommendations to the Faculty Academic Policy committee are competitiveness and fairness.

“We want to be an institution that attracts excellent faculty,” she said. “We are competing with other institutions trying to do the same thing. We want to offer compensation package that will be attractive so we can bring in the best faculty.”

Similarly, workload is a factor in the distribution of pay, a decision which is ultimately made by the Provost.

“We think about the workload that [faculty members] have, whether they are being compensated in a way that is commensurate with the workload,” said Silverstein.

“The largest driver for the board is ‘are we offering competitive salaries, and are we offering salaries that recognize the work of our faculty,’” said Demareski.

Silverstein also said that, in the past, recommendations from the FCC have led to paid parental leave for the faculty members. In addition, Demareski also noted the role of the FCC in revamping the child care system on campus, including the ongoing construction of the park for  the Early Learning Center.

“The child care center is primarily here to help us recruit and retain junior faculty,” he added. “[The FCC] took that from being an area of frustration for the faculty to something that I think they’re very, very happy with. FCC’s role was to bring that to our attention.”

About Benjamin Fuller

Ben Fuller '21 is the editor-in-chief of The Lafayette. He studies math and computer science, with a minor in religious studies.

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