Letters to the Editor
—Shannon Miller, Chair, Department of English
February 17, 2009
While a number of my colleagues will respond to a range of claims in Professor Laurence Steinberg’s recent letter to the Faculty Herald, I want to strenuously object to his claim that tenure track faculty who have low salaries are “moribund” researchers.
As a chair, I can see more clearly than most how faculty who have been the victims of salary compression are among my most active researchers. Starting salaries are one of the most determining factors in a faculty member’s salary many years down the line. Faculty who, because of the inclination of a dean or the financial resources available to a dean, begin with low salaries will be incapable of offsetting this for years, if ever. The opportunities for merit have waxed and waned: faculty who were highly productive during years when there was very little merit are, again, placed behind the curve on salaries. I applaud TAUP for recognizing that across-the-board raises actually re-inscribe the kind of salary inequities that are injurious to many of our best and most valuable faculty. The university needs to work aggressively to address these issues of salary compression and thus salary inequity. Temple—and that includes professors such as Dr. Steinberg—needs to understand that the most valuable resource we have are our faculty. Salary compression is not just financially disabling to many of our best faculty, but it weakens morale and leads to excellent faculty looking for, and taking, other jobs. Finally, let me stress that the last thing a grossly-underpaid faculty member deserves is to be attacked for the very fact of being underpaid.
Chair, Department of English