Quality of life keeps
faculty at U.Va.
an issue in faculty retention
By Anne Bromley
say money isnt everything, but it is part of the package
of a good faculty
post. Although U.Va. Faculty count living in Charlottesville on
the plus side, the lack of raises for two years is a growing concern.
state budget cuts, the University is pushing projects that are
of concern to faculty. Important building projects are proceeding,
and collaborative work is being encouraged. Fund-raising efforts
to boost support for graduate students, as well as faculty, are
a high priority.
a recent American Association of University Professors report,
Quite Good News for Now, found that nationally,
faculty salaries rose higher last year than they have since 1990,
by an average of 3.8 percent, indications are that things are
about to change. Many states are facing budget deficits, and higher
education is one of the areas that can be cut.
gave no increases to faculty at public colleges and universities
or to its state workers last year. An average 2.5 percent bonus
is earmarked instead of raises this year. The financial picture
doesnt look good for the next fiscal year, either.
are hopeful signs. The legislatures approval of a bond referendum
for new buildings, which will be on the ballot this fall, is one
way the University could move ahead with its plans.
his annual State of the University address, President
John T. Casteen III announced that the University will give an
average 5 percent raise to faculty who are promoted, a customary
gesture that is also partly designed to prevent raiding by other
Dove, Commonwealth Professor of English and former U.S. Poet Laureate,
recently made headlines in the Chronicle of Higher Education when
she decided to stay at U.Va. after being courted by the University
of Illinois-Chicago. After considering the generous offer, she
said it could not overcome the simple fact that my husband
and I love living in Charlottesville.
someone especially if that person has an expensive laboratory,
for example can be difficult. A more costly, less visible
problem is the damage an academic department or project could
suffer as a result, said Faculty Senate chair Robert Grainger,
a biology professor.
intellectual groups of colleagues is important for collaboration,
said Grainger, who suggests that the University should consider
tapping into the endowment to support faculty salaries. Its
an investment. It may be harder to counter-offer successfully
if colleagues are an issue, he said. Even just a few selective
hires or losses can make a difference, he noted.
are expressing cautious optimism that non-monetary factors and
very selective spending will be enough to maintain academic community.
office is working to build an environment of innovation, activity
and support for everyone, said Edward L. Ayers, dean of
Arts & Sciences. We are working to raise private and
foundation support, to create new opportunities for the interdisciplinary
work people have told us they want, to establish alliances with
other schools at the University, to improve conditions for graduate
students and to improve physical facilities in the arts, sciences,
humanities and social sciences.
leaders say they have been impressed by the facultys loyalty
and how few have considered leaving. Part of that stems from an
understanding that administrators involved with management and
finances are doing what they can, Grainger said.
Provost Gene Block has seen the same quality. Weve
had relatively few people whove taken competitive offers,
he said. We have been able to retain almost everyone. I
think faculty know the administration is on their side, and so
is the governor.
factor that influences faculty, besides salary, is quality of
life. Charlottesville offers a spectacular place to live,
Ayers said, a sentiment that was echoed by many. That is
our ace in the hole. Our community is most attractive for those
with families, it seems to me, and less attractive for single
people, but in general it is beautiful, pleasant, interesting
quality of students and colleagues is the other most important
factor, I think, and here, too, U.Va. can hold its own with just
about anyone, Ayers said.
Breneman, dean of U.Va.s Curry School of Education and an
expert in higher education funding, said he worries most about
junior faculty, who may have young families and more insecurity
about planning for expenses, such as their childrens college
tuitions. Plus, theyre less rooted than older, established
and Richard Miksad, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied
Science, say competition in the hiring market can be a problem
for junior or senior faculty. They are especially concerned about
attracting and retaining women and minorities, they said.
hiring freeze really hurts because it reduces the chances of making
our faculty as diverse as our student body. Im committed
to that goal and hope we can hire new colleagues in the fall,
department chair Michael Levenson sounds more of an alarm. Salary
is assuming more importance, he said.
seriously worried about faculty retention.
There have been
several serious retention emergencies in the last few months.
By good chance, these have been resolved, but its clear
to me that we are sailing through treacherous waters.
Weve had to make some aggressive counter-actions
to keep some faculty members, Miksad said.
strategy has been to maintain the work environment the Curry school
faculty enjoys. Travel budgets have not been cut as they have
in other schools, and several grants are yielding a nice
infusion of funds.
money is tight. Departments many of them operating short-handed
have put in requests to hire 10 to 15 people, but the most
slots he could foresee filling are one or two, he said.
first responsibility is to current people. I dont sense
insecurity among them. After all, academic positions are still
better off than some other jobs in the public sector, said