ASU Faculty Senate Raises Pay Inequities with President McClure


After years of compensation committee work and salary comparisons with other universities, Adams State University (ASU) Faculty Senate has submitted a letter of concern to President McClure regarding several persisting faculty salary issues. This letter was presented to the Board of Trustees at their August 25-26th meeting.

The main problems identified in the two page document are significant ongoing pay disparities between faculty making less than 80% of their peers at other institutions and administration/athletics positions at over 100% of their peers at other institutions and also the practice of former administrators returning to faculty at 90% of their administrative salaries. Faculty Senate concludes that these requests are in the interest of retention and long term stability. In related news, At Least 17 Faculty Departed ASU in 2015-2016.

The issue of salary inequities at ASU has been at the forefront of this publication’s focus for the past year now. In October 2015, Watching Adams published a detailed analysis of faculty pay with CUPA Data Reveals Longstanding Pay Inequities at Adams State. Based on national peer group averages from College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA), we found that:

  • Most ASU faculty were making between 72-80% of their peers
  • Only two faculty positions pay above 100% – both are in Clinical Counseling and Applied Psychology
  • At least 24 administrative positions were already above 100% of their peers.
    Disproportionate raises have been given to athletics positions, such as the Strength & Conditioning Coordinator for ASU Athletics, previously at 82.2% of PGA with $40,812, was just given a $5,000 raise to $45,816, or 92.3% PGA
  • Pay disparities running counter to qualifications emerged from the data, such as the ASU Bookstore Director, holding a Bachelors in Marketing Management, makes $63,552, or 104.1% of other bookstore directors on average while the Instructional and Outreach Librarian, having earned a Masters in Library Science, makes $37,236, or 71.6% of other librarians in this position

In a related article, President McClure is Misinformed on CUPA Evaluations, Watching Adams reviewed an October 20th, 2015 email from the president which claimed “Your individual CUPA position was reviewed and approved by your supervisor. The Human Resources department did not make the decision–they only implemented it.” Several employee supervisors responded in disagreement, stating, “I was never – and have never – been consulted by anyone with respect to the appropriate CUPA position descriptions to use for salary analysis.”

In the past year, Faculty Senate has given the matter of salaries some attention but not in the direct manner of this letter. The two recommendations given to President McClure in August 2016 state in part:

Make a concerted effort to hire faculty and staff within a consistent CUPA range. To this end, nobody should be hired below 80% of CUPA average just as nobody should be hired at more than 100% of CUPA average for their position. In fact, until everyone on our campus is up to 100% of CUPA average for their position, we would deem it professionally irresponsible to continue to hire faculty or staff at more than 100% of CUPA average.

Immediately discontinue the practice of returning administrators to tenure lines, or transitioning administrators to departments as tenured faculty, at pay rates well above their tenured position’s CUPA rate.

The letter goes on to cite two examples of returning administrators to faculty at elevated compensation:

“Our concerns stem from a recent example within the VPAA’s office. As many of you may know, the current VPAA, Dr. Frank Novotny, is returning to his home department this summer. Our understanding is that he will do so at nearly 90% of his current salary of about $139,000. Thus, his salary as a full professor of Chemistry for Fall 2016 will be roughly $125,100. This figure represents nearly three tenure track faculty lines and is roughly 160% of CUP A average for a full professor of chemistry. At this rate, he will have the most favorable CUPA percentage on campus.

Furthermore, his salary will pay him at a rate of nearly twice that of his department Chair. A similar example is found in Dr. Mumper, who transitioned back to faculty at a salary much higher than the average CUPA rate for his position in his department, though the specifics of his salary negotiation arc not known to this committee. With this in mind, we request that all future administrators with a tenure line be paid a base salary equivalent to 100% of their home department’s CUPA rate for their position. Obviously, while administrators serve in administration they should be compensated with a supplemental, time-sensitive contract that ends the day they end their services as an administrator.”

The issue of these “golden parachute” contracts was raised just after Watching Adams published 2016-2017 employee salary data in August 2016. One Watching Adams commentator (August 6, 2016 at 11:33am) summarized the problem as follows:

“In the context of fairness and campus-wide “equity”, the grossly disproportionate and utterly disgraceful salaries awarded to Drs. Novotny and Mumper upon their “decisions” to “resign” their respective administrative positions and return to faculty status should be of particular interest to faculty holding the same academic rank (i.e., Professor) in their respective disciplines (academic departments in which they are, incidentally, clearly superfluous). See Positions FS1601 and FA1501 listed on ASU Salary Data: Faculty 2016-17 posted on the Documents page of this site.

Salary for position FS1601 (Professor of Chemistry) is $106,608, which is $39,816 greater than the salary of $66,792 for position FS8002 (Professor of Chemistry and Department Chair). Similarly, salary for position FA1501 (Professor of Political Science) is a whopping $122,280, which is more than TWICE the average salary ($57,764) of faculty holding the rank of Professor in the Department of History/Anthropology/Philosophy/Political Science/Spanish (i.e., positions FA0033, FA8002, and FA8003) and $45,492 greater than position FA8006 (Professor of History and Department Chair.)

The shameless greed of ASU administrators lining their own pockets at the expense of their colleagues provides yet another example of the indefensible conduct that makes it impossible to support the administration at ASU.

The Faculty Senate letter to President McClure concludes by stating:

“In closing, we would like to emphasize the fact that our initiative stems from our genuine interest in retaining faculty and staff and supporting the long-term stability of our institution. Given the dire economic conditions within Higher Education in the state of Colorado, we firmly believe that it is within our civic duty to address this practice. Continuing to support such blatant inequalities will not only harm our institution in the short-term, it will impede the success and stability of Adams State University well into the future. It is our duty to stand strong for the principles this institution was built upon, and we believe that our initiative will support our mission of providing quality education to our student body at a reasonable price.”

Watching Adams will continue to follow this story for ongoing developments.