The Office of the Provost has announced that it aims to approve the new five-year plan for faculty pay schedules and annual merit-based pay increases proposed by the Main Campus Planning Committee before Thanksgiving.

A memo sent by Provost James O’Donnell to all university employees on Oct. 28 said a new five-year plan was on the horizon, but did not elaborate on many of the specific details of the plan.

“Recognizing that we must both continue to take prudent fiscal measures and make strategic investments in our core mission, we are taking several steps related to compensation,” the memo stated.

The new plan, which would go into effect at the beginning of the university’s fiscal year in July 2011, would help to keep Georgetown’s compensation levels competitive with schools of similar prestige that may have deeper pockets.

When asked whether the university has had recent difficulty recruiting and retaining talented faculty members due to the lure of better pay at other universities, Terrence Reynolds, chair of the main campus executive faculty, was noncommittal.

“Georgetown seems to lose some people, but not many,” he said.

O’Donnell agreed, citing what many feel has been the success of the soon-to-expire 10-year faculty pay plan that was implemented in 2000. “Not in the recent past,” he said. “We have slowed that over the past years.”

The plan implemented in 2000 was aimed at combating peer universities’ efforts to convince top faculty to leave the Hilltop.

“The fact that [those] salaries are lower than at other schools with which we compete for faculty was major motivation for the plan adopted in 2000, and remains a concern. Even more is being done to close the gap in the plan for the next five years,” Wayne Davis, chair of the philosophy department and president of the Faculty Senate , said. “Since Georgetown does not have the financial strength of the universities we compete with, we cannot just eliminate the gap overnight.”

At the heart of the new plan is the creation of a 3 percent merit pool from which annual pay increases for main campus faculty will be allocated. The raise each faculty member receives will be based on a performance evaluation.

“Some faculty members could receive nothing and some could potentially receive 15 percent,” O’Donnell said.

The metrics for evaluating performance have been carefully developed, according to Reynolds, who oversees the department chairs and faculty leadership responsible for formulating academic policy on the main campus.

Two of the key evaluators in awarding merit pay, which vary slightly across the various departments, are how frequently and successfully a faculty member publishes and his or her effectiveness as an educator.

“To alleviate the effects of having no increase during [the 2010-2011 academic year], the university has frozen benefits rates for staff. . The main campus has begun a study of staff and non-tenure-line faculty compensation with a view to developing long-term plans by March of 2011. Staff salary planning is very different than that for tenure-line faculty,” Davis said in the memo.

The memo also detailed the addition of a few extra days off for faculty during winter break and a postponement of premium increases in health care, parking expenses and child care until July.

Another key feature of the new plan involves more attempts to compete with outside recruitment of the university’s high-profile professors. A reserve pool of cash will be available for use at the discretion of O’Donnell to provide some additional financial cushion for faculty members being courted by other universities.

The main campus executive faculty approved the plan with 24 votes in favor and one abstention.

“I think [the plan] was well-conceived and well structured,” Reynolds said. “I think it was fair.”

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