A Correspondent’s Response, Defending Managers’ Salaries

Well, the April Fool mock-press release from Local 237 at Conestoga College gives me a good opportunity to revisit the mail bag, to discuss a letter that I received, objecting to my page discussing the OCASA guidelines for compensating college managers (e.g., chairs, deans, V.P.s and Presidents). The letter (edited to remove the more inflammatory parts) is as follows

What is your problem with how much other people make. They work longer hours than teacher’s (sic) and they do not get 8 weeks in a row off during the summer. If you want more money move into management you moron.

Well, now, where to begin?

Firstly, let’s make it clear that I have no problem with managers making more money than professors — I do have a problem with the managers’ Association  giving them pay raises of up to 15% (in the form of performance bonuses) and beyond (in the form of bonuses for additional responsibilities or expertise) at a time when they claim that the economy prevents professors from receiving raises over 2%, as would have been appropriate to their comparator groups.

Now obviously, if OCASA believed that college managers’ salaries were fair and appropriate and reasonable, they would not have felt the need to remove them from both their website and from Google’s cache feature.  That evidences a guilty conscience — I note the professors’ salary scale and raises are written and published in our Collective Agreement, for all to see — why won’t the managers’ Association do the same?

As to the work they do:  Personally, I have been blessed with wonderful managers during my time in the college system, and I’m certain that every one of them worked more than the 44 hours weekly assigned to professors.  I also note, however, that managers receive additional compensation for the additional duties that exceed their contracted work — professors do not.

But the part of the letter’s reasoning that concerns me is the following line: “If you want more money move into management you moron“.   No, not the moron part, the other part — the notion that we could all easily move into management if we so pleased, and that this ‘fact’ means that non-managers therefore have no right to criticize managers.

In universities, let’s remember, chairs and coordinators are professors, who are elected by their colleagues (either directly, or through departmental committees); V.P.s are approved by Academic Senates, in which faculty have votes and (in some cases) vetoes.

In colleges, on the other hand, as I understand it (and I sincerely ask people to correct me politely if I’m wrong), managers are selected by . . . other managers.  It’s managers who ultimately decide the responsibility of each new manager’s position, the wording of the job posting, the interview process, and the winning candidate.  And, in turn, it’s their “Association” that negotiates their salaries, miraculously obtaining up to double-digit performance bonuses in the middle of a recession, without the need for a single strike vote.

So we live in a system where professors are accountable to managers, and managers are accountable to . . . each other.  And I wonder whether that structure accounts for Figure 7 of this report, which demonstrates that full-time managerial positions have not decreased since 1993, while full-time faculty positions have dropped by 15%, despite a 15% rise in full-time students.

And the presence of this managerial class is a long way from the collegiality between managers and faculty towards which both the colleges and various faculty groups claim to aspire.

In upcoming days, I’ll be introducing some other correspondents’ opinions on the role of managers within an academic community.  Since I’ve never stated it explicitly, I’ll mention that I’m happy to publish letters representing a broad spectrum of opinions, although I retain my right to voice my own opinions.  The easiest way to get a letter published on the blog is to address it to the general audience and to write in a respectful tone.


And lastly, a personal message to nmckay6 — if you wish for your letters to be published, then please submit them from an e-mail address to which I can successfully respond.

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