July, 2013, no. 1
The University of Pittsburgh Medical School
Apparently Abandons Commitments to Salaries
Creating a Virulent Form of Post-Tenure Review
Dean Arthur Levine of the University of Pittsburgh Medical School has announced a new salary policy that provides for cumulative twenty percent cuts every year to the salaries of tenured, nonclinical faculty members who fail to secure certain levels of dollar amounts for the school through outside grants and other moneys. This money, the school states, will be used to offset significant proportions of their salaries and other costs. “The exact proportion of salary to be met by outside grants, according to the documents in our possession, may vary from faculty member to faculty member. Regardless of prior performance or long-term job expectations, a Chair may, at his or her discretion, give less weight to teaching, publications, quality of in-progress research than to federal grant awards [or other outside moneys].” Since tenured faculty members can be driven from their jobs by the relentless slashing of their salary this is, obviously, a particularly virulent form of post-tenure review. Post-tenure review in almost every instance–and certainly in this case–is strictly enjoined by AAUP policy.
As indicated above, we have found almost no standards common to all. It appears that different standards can be set for each individual–a process which is, if true, wide open to favoritism, unequal evaluations, even capricious abuses of power. There appear to be no provisions that assure that all faculty members at the same place in their careers will be treated equally. From the documents that the Pennsylvania AAUP has obtained it appears most likely that Deans and department chairs have almost unchecked latitude in whom to assign what standard; a latitude which would have a chilling effect on academic freedom and faculty governance.
We, furthermore, have evidence that some faculty have already been affected by the unequal application of this process.
Finally, AAUP standards regarding Medical Salaries require schools to offer support to its members at a level appropriate to faculty in the basic sciences. It is alleged that this policy will drop full-time tenured faculty salaries below any reasonable minimum level. In all of this, it appears, consultation with faculty has either been minor or non-existent. If these allegations are shown to be true, the PA-AAUP Executive Committee may place the University of Pittsburgh and its medical school on our “specially monitored” list as we follow the fate of its faculty, we will actively engage the administration, we will compile data and follow the “paper trail”, we will publicize that data relentlessly, and we have the option to refer the data to the national AAUP–the body of the AAUP that has the authority to censure, and, in extreme cases relating to faculty governance, sanction an institution.