Some information

To The Law School Community:

We’ve been getting some questions about a resolution brought to the last faculty meeting, and we’d like to share some information.

 Recently the University announced across-the-board cost of living adjustments and merit pay increases to take effect later in the year.

 A group of law faculty came up with the idea to divert the law school’s portion of the faculty merit pay funds to a post-graduate fellowship program for new law grads, in lieu of accepting a pay increase.

 Last Friday, this group brought this idea as a resolution (included below) to the regularly scheduled faculty meeting.  A wide majority of those present voted to approve the resolution—in addition, a majority of the full faculty support the resolution.

 We brought the matter to the Provost and although he is supportive of our goals he cannot bend the University rules to make this creative idea happen.  However, we remain committed to finding ways to fund post-graduate opportunities and address other employment issues facing our graduates.

 We invite your comments and questions on this blog or one-on-one.

(I am not the Faculty Spokesperson.  To avoid the appearance of speaking for everyone on the faculty, here I will include the names of some faculty who agreed to sign this statement (and I don’t mean to imply that those not included do not support it): Stuart Chinn, Michael Fakhri, Caroline Forell, Liz Frost, Erik Girvan, Carrie Leonetti, Mohsen Manesh, Roberta Mann, Megan McAlpin, Michelle McKinley, Margie Paris, Jen Reynolds, Liz Tippett.)

 Here is the text of the resolution from 4/11/2014:

The faculty recommends that the dean proceed with conversations with the Provost and the President regarding: reallocating funds for proposed faculty merit raises toward student fellowships, with a focus at present on post graduate student fellowships.  If this proposal is approved, the faculty will revisit this reallocation of funds after two-three years.

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9 responses to “Some information

  1. Hi Professor Reynolds,

    Could you enlighten the phrase, “bend the University rules,” a little more? I am not sure if it is completely clear how the proposed program would work and which rule ultimately defeated it and why.

    Thank you,
    Caleb Gray

  2. Hi Caleb! I don’t know the answer. At our meeting, the faculty resolved for the Dean to seek more information about whether and how our merit raises could be reallocated. As I understand it, he sought that information and was told such reallocation was not possible. I don’t have anything more specific than that. This is a good question for the Dean’s office hours.

  3. If the funds cannot be diverted into post-graduate fellowships through the university, why don’t the professors who are interested in the idea, just donate their portion to be allocated to those post-graduate fellowships? Oregonians have been doing something similar by donating their kicker checks to K-12 schools.

    • Hey Aubrey! It’s true that there are different ways to fund a post-grad fellowship program (private donations, big donor, loan, etc.). These approaches are slower to develop, though, and one of our primary focuses was helping this year’s graduating class. With the resolution we were trying to seize an opportunity (the upcoming raises) to create a relatively substantial pool of money in the short term, to benefit grads this year and hopefully to create some momentum around donations (i.e., if others see that we are committed to this program, they might be more inclined to help). We continue to work actively on this issue.

    • Donating by diverting the bonuses would also result in a much larger total contribution to fellowships because, when the university gives us a raise, they have to make proportional contributions to our pensions, 401Ks, and health insurance and pay payroll, Social Security, and Medicare taxes on the salary increase, etc. So, basically, every $5 that a faculty member receives in raise costs central campus something like $15 in total expenses. One of the benefits of diverting the bonuses, rather than making donations post-salary, would be that the entire $15 ends up in a fellowship, rather than the post-FTE post-tax $5. Another benefit of diverting the bonus money is that it would result in 100% of the total allocation going to post-graduate fellowships, rather than relying on “voluntary contributions,” which, in my experience, often equates to no contributions, because it’s a lot harder to get people to take money out of their bank account than to forego it in the first place.

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  5. I just want to say how touched I was when I heard about this resolution. I do not think our fantastic faculty should EVER give up their hard-earned pay (you deserve millions just for putting up with us), but I was very moved when I heard about it, regardless.
    Sincerely,
    A Formerly Jaded 3L

  6. I have found this university to be so overwhelmingly concerned with the needs of its students. I dislike that the publicity surrounding this action isn’t “Professors vote to forgo raise in favor of employment funding” instead of “Look at this embarrassing email.” I wish that the lawduck community could find a way to publicize the great ways in which professors give back to encourage students looking for our amazing atmosphere to come here.

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