Strategic Planning Initiative

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WestConn at a Glance

With the number of budget and contractual constraints we face, are we able to attract and retain outstanding faculty and staff?

Collect information through research and public conversations/focus groups that will provide responses and future guidance on this question.

Introduction:

President Schmotter has directed the University to evaluate our strategic vision and progress as part of both a review and updating of the University’s Strategic Plan and as part of our upcoming NEASC self-study process.  As part of this process, he has requested a group to consider the following question:
With the number of budget and contractual constraints we face, are we able to attract and retain outstanding faculty and staff?

The following group of faculty and staff considered that question:

  • Dr. Michele Ganon, Professor of Accounting
  • Dr. Joan Palladino, Associate Professor of Nursing
  • Mr. Sean Loughran, Director of Fiscal Affairs/Controller
  • Ms. Rebecca Woodward, Director of Media Services
  • Mr. Charles Spiridon, Associate VP for Human Resources

In considering the above question, the group began with an analysis of our current faculty and administrative staff (Management/Confidential and SUOAF employees) compensation in comparison to appropriate salary survey information.  We also looked at the University’s turnover ratio to determine whether our institution experienced unusual turnover.  Finally, we examined our current compensation plans and collective bargaining agreements to determine whether they provided the necessary flexibility to recruit and retain outstanding faculty and staff.

Turnover:

The Committee first examined whether the University has turnover issue that needs to be addressed.  The University’s annual turnover rate of the permanent workforce from 2000 – 01 through 2010 – 11 was 7.7%.  This equates to approximately 44 individuals per year.  This is not an unusual amount for an organization our size.   Additionally, the annual turnover rates have been fairly consistent with the only factor impacting the rate being if the State of Connecticut offered an early retirement incentive program.
Since turnover is not a problem, the Committee turned their attention to determine whether there were recruitment barriers impacting our ability to acquire outstanding faculty and staff.  Below is a discussion on what the Committee found.

Cost of Living

Before discussing the competitiveness of the University’s compensation programs, it is necessary to discuss the cost of living for both the State of Connecticut and the county in which the University resides (Fairfield County).  Fairfield County is among the most costly counties in the United States to reside.  Exhibit #1 provides several different measures of the cost of living in Fairfield County.  Among those measures are the following:

  • The Cost of Living Index for Fairfield County is 42% greater than the overall US Cost of Living Index.
  • The median cost of an owner occupied home in Fairfield County is $484,200 compared to $185,400 for the United States.
  • Monthly housing cost of a non-mortgage residence (typically rental property) is $905 in Fairfield County compared to $419 nationally.

In addition, the cost of living in Fairfield County is greater than the cost of living in other Connecticut Counties where Connecticut State Universities are located.  Below is a table that demonstrates the differences:

County (University)

2009 Cost of Living Index

Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2005-2009

Median of selected monthly owner costs.
w/ a Mortgage

Median of selected monthly owner costs.
Not Mortgaged

Fairfield (WCSU)

142.0

$484,200

$2,690

$905

New Haven (SCSU)

134.4

$271,500

$1,938

$747

Hartford (CCSU)

109.3

$242,900

$1,850

$688

Windham (ECSU)

113.8

$226,300

$1,600

$544

Because there is a uniform salary scale that is used for all four Universities, the cost of living in Fairfield County erodes the earning power of salary.  Another way of stating this is that a $100,000 salary in Fairfield County is worth $105,655 in New Haven County, $129,918 in Hartford County, and $124,780 in Windham County. 

Because the salary administration is based upon the same salary schedule for all four universities and the Board of Regents, the same salary schedule at Western Connecticut State University is worth less than at the other CSU Universities and Board of Regents.  In determining the competitiveness of our salary program, cost of living needs to be factored into the analysis.

Benchmarking Salaries:

The University participates in two annual salary surveys administered by the College & University Personnel Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR).  The Administrative Compensation Survey collects salary and demographic data for 284 selected administrative positions in colleges and universities.  The National Faculty Salary Survey for Four-Year Institutions (NFSS) collects salary data for full-time faculty at private and public institutions nationwide by discipline and rank.  These two surveys’ data for Academic Year 2010-11 were used to benchmark the salaries of WCSU employees.

Faculty Salaries – The University operates in a collective bargaining environment in regards to salary administration for faculty salaries.  The salary ranges for the four academic ranks for AY 2010-11 were as follows:

 

Rank

Minimum Salary

Maximum Salary

Professor

$78,849

$105,550

Associate Professor

$66,263

$88,782

Assistant Professor

$53,618

$72,014

Instructor

$47,310

$63,631

 

WCSU faculty salaries by rank for most disciplines are competitive to national averages except for certain disciplines in the Ancell School of Business.  Exhibit #2 compares the average WCSU salary by rank and discipline to data from the CUPA-HR National Faculty Salary Survey for Academic Year 2010-11.  Except for five disciplines located in the Ancell School of Business (Accounting, Finance, Management, Management Information Systems and Marketing disciplines), the University is either offering competitive salaries or has room within the CSU-AAUP collective bargaining agreement ranges to offer competitive salaries.  On average and excluding the five noted Ancell noted disciplines, WCSU faculty salaries are 14.4% greater than the national average.  The table below shows the average WCSU faculty salary in comparison to other broad groupings.

WCSU faculty salaries by rank for most disciplines are competitive to national averages except for certain disciplines in the Ancell School of Business.  Exhibit #2 compares the average WCSU salary by rank and discipline to data from the CUPA-HR National Faculty Salary Survey for Academic Year 2010-11.  Except for five disciplines located in the Ancell School of Business (Accounting, Finance, Management, Management Information Systems and Marketing disciplines), the University is either offering competitive salaries or has room within the CSU-AAUP collective bargaining agreement ranges to offer competitive salaries.  On average and excluding the five noted Ancell noted disciplines, WCSU faculty salaries are 14.4% greater than the national average.  The table below shows the average WCSU faculty salary in comparison to other broad groupings.


Cohort

Avg. Salary

Difference from WCSU

All WCSU Salaries

$81,963

N/A

All Institutions

$71,644

14.4%

All Public Institutions

$72,386

13.2%

Public Institutions - No Collective Bargaining

$71,485

14.7%

Public Institutions with Collective Bargaining

$74,340

10.3%

The University is not able to offer competitive salaries in the Accounting, Finance, Management, Management Information Systems or Marketing disciplines.  In some situations, the average starting salaries for assistant professors (typically candidates early in their careers with limited experience and publication records) earn more than senior full professors and/or associate professors at WCSU.  In all disciplines, except for Management, the national average for new assistant professors exceeds the allowable maximum CSU-AAUP collective bargaining maximum salary for the rank of assistant professor - $72,014.  Even in the Management discipline, the national average is only slightly below the maximum salary permitted under the CSU-AAUP collective bargaining agreement for assistant professors.
Below is a chart demonstrating the disparity:


Discipline

National Average for New Assistant Professor

Average WCSU Professor Salary

Average WCSU Associate Professor Salary

Accounting

$112,329

$104,354

$88,639

Finance

$118,914

$104,399

None

Management

$72,000

$100,876

$81,267

Management Information Systems

$89,378

$104,641

$88,496

Marketing

$99,500

$101,017

$86,363

Given the above constraint, it is extremely difficult, perhaps almost impossible, for the Accounting, Finance, Management Information Systems, and Marketing Departments to recruit for new faculty.  The Management department is also in a difficult situation, just not as difficult a situation as the other disciplines.  In most situations, the recruitment for new faculty in the above disciplines is based upon the premise of being lucky and finding a candidate who wants to relocate or stay in the Danbury area - that is not a long-term or valid recruitment strategy.  The salary ranges for these disciplines is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed.

Administrative Salaries – Administrative salaries fall within two employment groups – Management/Confidential Employees and State University Organization of Administrative Faculty (SUOAF).  Salary administration for Management/Confidential employees is governed by policies developed by the Board of Regents (formerly the CSU Board of Trustees).  Salary administration for SUAOF employees is governed by the CSU-SUOAF collective bargaining agreement. 

We compared salaries for 60 administrative positions where we had comparable data from the CUPA-HR Administrative Compensation Survey for Academic Year 2010-11. While it is difficult to compare salary data for individual position titles because of differences in seniority within the positions and differenced in the scope of job responsibilities, we can achieve some information from the cumulative data.

We examined cumulative salaries for the 60 WCSU positions to comparable data from Administrative Compensation Survey for Academic Year 2010-11.  Exhibit 3 compares WCSU salary data for the 60 positions with four different groups.  Below is the cumulative comparison to the four groups. 


Benchmark

Cumulative Salary Data

WCSU Variance to Benchmark

WCSU 2010 -11 Salary

$6,343,080

N/A

 

 

 

Median - All Public Institutions

$5,6214,780

+12.8%

Median - All Northeast Institutions

$5,886,883

+7.8%

Median -All Institutions w/ Budget $78.3 to $191.4 m

$5,547,787

+14.3%

Median -Masters Institutions w/ Budget $87.3 to $151.3 m

$5,157,095

+23.0%

While it would be beneficial if we were able to compare WCSU administrative salaries to a sample that melded information from the cohorts above, that comparative information is not available.  However, we are able to draw some conclusions from the available information.  Administrative salaries on a whole are competitive.  They are approximately 12.8% greater than comparable data from all public institutions. 

Two other non-economic policies impact the University’s ability to recruit candidates for executive level positions.  For Management/Confidential employees (Vice Presidents, Deans, Associate VP, and certain directors), the non-renewal notification period is only three months.  The industry standard is one-year notice for non-renewal.  This means that at any time after the first nine months of work, the new Management/Confidential employees can be informed that their employment is ending three months after the notification date. 

Secondly, according to Board policy, the University is prevented from offering tenure or academic rank status to new hires.  This especially impacts recruitment for academic leadership position such as Provost/VP for Academic Affairs and academic deans.  The University has lost numerous qualified candidates for these positions due to both the non-renewal notification period and the inability to award tenure and/or academic rank status.

Conclusion

Compensation programs for both faculty and administrative staff are administered on a state-wide basis.  The current compensation programs fail to account for regional differences in the cost of living and; therefore, create disparities that the Universities recruitment efforts cannot overcome.  While the University pays above the national market rate for faculty (14.4% greater) and administrative positions (12.8% greater), those premiums do not offset the cost of living factor.  The cost of living index for Fairfield County is 42% greater than the national index and 12% greater than the overall index for Connecticut.  This factor has caused the University to lose qualified candidates in the past and will likely continue to have an impact on our ability to recruit and retain faculty and administrative staff.

In five business-related disciplines - Accounting, Finance, Management, Management Information Systems and Marketing disciplines – the faculty compensation program does not allow the University to competitively recruit.  Starting salaries of new assistant professors often pay more than our senior faculty at the professorial and associate professor rank.  Absent a restricting of the compensation program or added market adjustment for those disciplines, the University will not be able to competitive compete in the job market.

Unfortunately, the current economic environment and the fact that the AAUP and SUOAF collective bargaining agreements are in place through August 2016 make the possibility of addressing these concerns unlikely in the near future.  Even beyond the near future, given that collective bargaining salary parameters and the Management/Confidential salary program are established by statewide groups, it is difficult to convince others that something different needs to be done for WCSU because of our location.  We need to recognize that we are operating in a competitive disadvantage through 2016, and perhaps beyond 2016.

Two non-economic factors – Management/Confidential renewal notice and no academic rank & tenure status for academic administrative positions - continue to impede our ability to recruit administrative candidates.  Both policies warrant review and revision.  These policies impact all the CSU universities.  Because of their broad negative impact, it is hopeful that the impetus for review and change could occur sooner rather than later.

 

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