One of the University’s primary asset is its faculty. The faculty, more than infrastructure, determines the knowledge transmitted and the manner students learn. Hence, they play a major role in establishing, nurturing and sustaining academic excellence and the good quality education the University promised to its students.
Universities, therefore, need to provide for their faculty in terms of compensation, benefits, growth and development, which includes promotion.
“Promotion is a recognition of the achievements and contributions of the faculty in teaching, research and community engagement,” says Dr. Myrna Austria, Vice Chancellor for Academics (VCA). “Top administration’s primary goal is to maintain the good, high quality faculty.”
Promotion is a benefit full-time faculty receive; part-time faculty are not eligible as they have a lecturer rankings. As of AY 2011-2012, the Human Resources Development Management Office (HRDMO) processed all the faculty promotions, which are then cleared by the VCA. Each faculty member can only receive one promotion a year.
The department chairperson usually makes the recommendations, overseen by a panel consisting of the college Dean, the department chair, a representative of the Faculty Association (FA) and a faculty representative from the department. After the panel decides on the merits of the professor, the decision is forwarded to the VCA, who serves as the final arbiter of clearing the promotion based on submitted documents and the subject’s actual contributions to the University.
The system has four faculty ranks for full time professors, which are instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and full professor. Each rank has a number of steps, and attaining any one position within each rank has a different set of criteria.
Generally, the University looks at publications, student ITEO evaluations, peer and administrator evaluations, teaching evaluations, building linkages, and participation in conferences; DLSU also looks at the candidate’s community engagement and Lasallian values.
The stringency of implementation follows a strict policy, with the absence of any one missed requirement as sufficient grounds for the deferral of promotion. “It is all or nothing,” asserts Austria. “That is how we maintain excellence. You cannot have just the majority [of requirements].
“Sometimes, we have faculty with good teaching evaluations and publication, but we question their values. Even for that, you cannot be promoted. Sometimes it is difficult to meet the criteria. Other than that, once you have met the criteria, you can be promoted every year, and we process promotions every term. For some faculty, it will take them years to be promoted, especially if you do not have the appropriate degree,” she shares.
The funding for faculty pay raises comes directly from tuition fees, of which 70 percent is immediately allocated for personnel expenses as per Commission on Higher Education (CHED) mandate. It may be, however, that tuition collections cannot meet the needs of the faculty.
FA President Dante Leoncini clarifies in a December interview that the increase in tuition fee does not sufficiently address the needs of faculty in terms of coping with inflation. “You have to see that we faculty have our needs,” he emphasizes.
Leoncini goes on to point that these needs are not being met due to minimal growth in pay rates. “With inflation roughly four to five percent every year, what happens in effect is that we are forced to subsidize the education of students.” The current tuition fee increase for AY 2012-2013 was agreed to be at 3.5 percent, roughly 0.5 percent below inflation.
Faculty compensation, in general, may not be at par with other institutions. “Our salaries may no longer be at par with industry,” admits Austria. “This is why we are reviewing our salary structure.”
DLSU’s salary structure, which includes the compensation of part-time and full-time faculty, per rank and per step, is a public document that is posted in departments. While not readily accessible, it is one of the most transparent and systematized compensation systems among the country’s higher educational institutions.
Other prestigious universities do not share a similar means of disclosing faculty salaries, nor their computation. Certain universities’ compensation systems remain confidential documents not subject to audit except for certain university authorities such as the university presidents, making it possible for lower ranking faculty to receive higher salaries than their seniors.
Nevertheless, there is a need for the review of the salary structure of faculty compensation, even if Austria clarifies that for some faculty, it is not really about the monetary compensation.
“You have to take good care of your faculty, even if there is a salary differential. It is not just about money. They value how you care about them. They value relationships, how you make them feel important,” she ends.