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NEWS from your Faculty Organization
http://academic.pgcc.edu/facultyorganization/


by Eldon Baldwin and John Bartles

In May 2004, Prince George's County agreed to add $2 million in new funds to our annual operating budget. The receipt of these new funds enabled the college to provide a 6% increase in annual salaries for most full-time employees. In October 2004, the Prince George's Community College Foundation kicked off a major fund raising campaign, with the goal of raising $10 million during the next five years. This academic year also ends the college’s current set of five-year strategic goals. New strategic goals for 2005-2010 are being written this year, and will become effective on July 1, 2005. Finally, we are completing our ten-year Middle States Self-Study this fall. This report, which will soon be shared with the entire college community, includes significant recommendations for improvement. The general intent of the Middle States Commission is that this report and its recommendations provide a ten-year roadmap to guide institutional change.

The combined effects of increasing resources, new strategic goals, and the Middles States process create a unique opportunity for significant institutional change. In particular, this academic year offers the best opportunity in fifteen years to begin repairing the faculty compensation system, a system that the budget crises of the early 1990s severely damaged. In addition to compensation, the Faculty Organization is also working hard to enhance the role that faculty play in college governance. Converting these opportunities into meaningful institutional actions depends upon many factors, not the least of which is broad faculty involvement in and support of the work of the Faculty Organization.

Compensation

Twenty years ago, under a compensation system that provided average salary increases of 8.5% per year, large numbers of senior faculty were reaching the top of the salary scale. Many of these faculty members argued for programs to increase salary ceilings, restore sabbatical leave, and offer retirement incentives. Then, during the early 1990s, the college entered its first period of a significant budget crisis. Annual salary increases for all employees were cut from longevity-plus-cost-of-living to cost-of-living only. This change dropped average annual salary increases from 8.5% per year to 3.4% per year. During this same period, summer school pay was cut from the 1/40 rate to the 1/50 rate to the 1/120 rate. For a senior faculty member who earned $60,000 per year, and depended upon summer pay to augment that income, these reductions cut pay for teaching two three-credit summer courses from $9000 to $7200 to $3000.

Our most senior faculty today, those who benefited from those years of 8.5% increases, are still at the top of the salary scale. However, faculty members who have worked at PGCC for fewer than twenty years find it virtually impossible to climb further up their salary scales. The plight is particularly bleak for those new members of the faculty hired since 1990. As they progress through the promotion process from Instructor to Assistant Professor to Associate Professor to Professor, they remain at or near the bottom of each salary scale. For years, the standard practice has been to raise salary scales each year by the same approximate percentage that has been paid as a cost-of-living increase for that year. Before longevity increases were abolished, that additional annual increase enabled all faculty to climb up each salary scale gradually, but now each salary scale itself climbs at approximately the same rate as the faculty who hold the corresponding rank.

This year, the Faculty Senate is considering two proposals intended to address this significant problem. One proposal is to add new salary increments and increase existing increments as newer faculty progress through the process of additional graduate study, promotion, and tenure. The other proposal is to provide an opportunity for more experienced faculty to continue to earn periodic salary increments after they become tenured full professors. These proposals are still in a formative stage as the Salary and Benefits Committee of the Faculty Senate considers them. You will find these proposals on the Faculty Organization Web site: navigate to Meetings, then to 2004-2005, and finally to Faculty Senate Actions. If you have ideas and suggestions, now is the time to offer them!

Leave Banking

In 1990, when Bob Spear was president of the Faculty Senate, the faculty successfully negotiated a program known as Leave Banking to fill the gap left by much earlier elimination of sabbatical leaves. Under the original leave-banking program, faculty who taught overload courses (loads in excess of 15 credits per semester) can defer compensation for those overloads. Instead of receiving overload pay, they “bank” their overload credits. After teaching full-time at the college for a minimum of seven years, and banking 15 credits of overload teaching, these faculty members can then apply for one full semester at full salary, when they are released from their teaching obligations in order to engage in full-time professional development activities. When fewer than 15 credits have been banked, then the faculty member is eligible to request a corresponding reduced load.

The leave banking procedures evolved during the early 1990s, but the basic principle of the program never changed: “... to encourage and facilitate faculty professional development by providing a mechanism in which future reduced load or a semester's professional leave can be planned for and earned in advance.” The most significant procedural changes occurred between 1993 and 1995. After summer teaching pay was reduced, many full-time faculty members stopped teaching summer school, and department chairs found it increasingly difficult to staff their summer course offerings. In response to this dilemma, the faculty negotiated the right for full-time faculty to “bank” summer teaching credits rather than accepting the significantly reduced level of pay. 

But, this change alone provided only temporary relief for the summer teaching problem, because each faculty member could only bank credits and take professional leave at a rate of 15 credits every 7 years. To address this problem, faculty negotiated an additional provision in the leave-banking program: “Earned partial (reduced load) leave, not exceeding 60 percent of regular load, may be taken in any academic year, subject to the approval of the dean three (3) months prior to that in which the partial leave is to be taken.” With this added provision, after “three (3) years of continuous full-time faculty service,” any member of the full-time faculty can begin to bank overload and teaching credits, and after seven years, these faculty members can begin requesting both partial and full-semester professional leaves. Although they can only take one full-semester leave every seven years, they can request partial leaves during any year.

These changes in leave banking procedures were officially approved and published in 1995, and the program continues to operate in accordance with these modified procedures. However, several trends have evolved during the past ten years. Rather than using full-semester professional leaves for the intended professional development purposes, some senior faculty have used the leave-banking program to take essentially a one semester “pre-retirement leave,” after which they retire and never resume their full-time teaching duties. Some other faculty members have requested banked professional leaves for the purpose of earning an additional income from different employers, while still receiving full-time pay from the college. In addition, some leave banking records are incomplete, and adherence to published leave banking procedures is inconsistent.

These trends have drawn new attention to the leave-banking program, and members of the faculty and the administration are in the process of discussing perceived leave banking abuses and irregularities. The Faculty Senate has discussed the situation, including a proposal that is available on the Faculty Organization Web site, but this proposal has not yet been submitted for formal consideration. We anticipate that more discussion, including the Chairs Council, will have occurred by the time you read this article. You can keep abreast of the ongoing leave banking discussion by reading the Faculty Senate minutes, consulting the Faculty Organization Web site, and talking with your department chair and your delegate to Faculty Senate. 

We encourage all faculty members to read about the current leave-banking program in the Faculty Handbook, and to share your suggestions and concerns regarding leave banking. In addition, we invite you to attend meetings of the Faculty Senate. We meet twice each month at 3:15 p.m. on first and third Thursdays. Most of our meetings are scheduled in Conference Room 2 of the Largo Student Center, but at least one remaining meeting this fall is scheduled in Chesapeake Hall 109. The schedule of Faculty Senate meetings is included in our minutes.

 

The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 20, No. 1 

Fall 2004