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Professors Fighting Salary Cuts at University of Missouri

Professors Fighting Salary Cuts at University of Missouri

“Mun Choi, system president since 2017 and also Mizzou’s chancellor since 2020, recently told professors that he’s not backing down, however.”

The combination of the pandemic and lower enrollment is hitting the school pretty hard.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Cutting Faculty Salaries by Executive Order

In the COVID-19–induced chaos of spring 2020, the University of Missouri system quietly added a section to its rules and regulations that allows for individual tenured faculty salaries to be cut by up to 25 percent. This could be for productivity, enrollment or other reasons.

The rule change went largely unnoticed for a year, until news broke last summer that the School of Medicine at the university’s flagship campus at Columbia, or Mizzou, planned to slash multiple professors’ salaries by 10 to 25 percent following productivity reviews.

According to information from Mizzou, fewer than 10 professors in three programs—medicine, veterinary medicine and agriculture—have been affected to date. But the system expects that more professors will see pay cuts as additional academic units adopt criteria for evaluating professors under the new policy.

Alarmed by this policy shift, both in substance and how it was adopted, system professors have been fighting it for months.

Mun Choi, system president since 2017 and also Mizzou’s chancellor since 2020, recently told professors that he’s not backing down, however.

“I will not be making changes to the executive order,” Choi said in a memo to Kathleen Trauth, chair of the Faculty Council and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Mizzou. “Individuals who work for the university, whether faculty or staff, must fulfill important responsibilities that contribute to the mission of the university.”

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Comments

This sounds like an effective method for the administration to muzzle faculty members. If you don’t conform to the administration’s wishes, you can expect a cut in salary.

Medical school compensation is more complex than any other part of a Univeersity. The faculty get paid by the University, but many are also members of the university hospital practice group. The group bills out their work with specific patients and the income comes mostly from insurance companies. The group then has a formula for spreading the payments back to the individual doctors. So “boosting productivity” might mean requiring faculty to bill out more doctor visits through the group. Cutting salary might mean lowering the portion of the pay that is funded by tuition and endowment income.

Consider an expert heart surgeon. His income from performing surgeries might exceed the University President’s salary. But he only gives 4 or 5 lectures per year, and his income from tuition will be very low.

The doctor who teaches the first-year anatomy class may not see any patients at all, and his total income is funded by tuition.

Mizzou had some infamous woke protests several years ago, leading to the exodus of many or most undergraduates with brains. The reputation of the place is ruined. I’m not aware if they’ve become less-woke, but perhaps the legislature doesn’t want to fund such shenanigans and is cutting their allowance.

As for muzzling faculty, I didn’t hear many faculty bravely speak out when the university was being turned into a bad joke. I kinda don’t care about their freedom of speech anymore, let them join the real world of pay for productivity.

Lots of people get paid for productivity or by meeting various goals–why should academia be any different?