The Benefits of Pay Scrutiny: Why the Faculty Pay Study is Encouraging for Campus

Last week The Dickinsonian reported on faculty study of gender gaps in pay between faculty members (“Faculty Pay Analysis Finds No Gender Inequity, Some Profs Unconvinced”)

The college comes away strong from the study because all parties have a healthy commitment to equity, and have taken the work seriously. Faculty were given the space to evaluate salaries and study the inequality, administrators respected the interest in the issue and some faculty have maintained a healthy skepticism about the results. Everyone seems committed to the right goal of ensuring pay equity. Additionally, while the flagship headline was that there was no gender bias, the results also indicated no bias along other identity categories. 

Statements from both President Jones and Provost Weissman also reflected a positive attitude about the search. They’ve acknowledged the importance of taking the salary information and the right of faculty to study the issue seriously. The national culture around employee discussion of pay is not positive. There has been an uptick nationally in unionization efforts and more attention towards collective employee action, even in higher education — see the recent strike of graduate students at Temple University. There is still hostility towards employee organizing. I’m glad to know that our faculty are able to engage in institutional conversations about pay.

 Hopefully this study reflects support from administration, and the culture surrounding pay will remain positive at the college. As Ben Warren ’25 and Eleanor Nolan ’25 reported, merit pay increases were paused during the pandemic. Also, retirement contributions by the college were temporarily suspended. Faculty were rightfully upset at the changes, and I hope that this study reflects a positive move past these troubles. 

For Dickinson to stay a competitive institution, it needs to attract strong faculty members. Associate Professor Claire Seiler recognized when talking to The Dickinsonian that competitive compensation and a cooperative relationship between faculty and administration are an integral part of that.

I’m especially proud that The Dickinsonian took part in covering this conversation, because students ought to be engaged with how their tuition money is being spent. This was the principle behind the conversations that Divest Dickinson was forcing a few years ago, and the principle has even more potency in this context. 

Students have a very direct connection to faculty and an interest in equity in faculty pay.  Students should know that faculty are being paid fairly and ethically because it impacts our classroom experience. This compensation study was important to report on for that reason, and I hope students do their part to keep the conversation up. Faculty have gone above and beyond, so we need to support them, too.