Letter to the Editor: NIU will address pay inequality

By Lisa Freeman

As noted in the Northern Star there are faculty members who are concerned about salary inequity based on gender, and who believe that the administration has been slow to respond. In fact, members of NIU’s senior leadership are aware of and concerned about salary equity issues impacting NIU faculty members. In a Feb. 24 presentation to the Faculty Senate, Provost Lisa Freeman spoke directly to the need for NIU to develop a multi-year plan that will allow NIU to maintain competitive salaries for new hires, address salary compression and inversion and conduct a salary equity study. In the March 28 issue of the Northern Star, Chief Financial Officer Alan Phillips affirmed the university’s commitment to faculty salary equity.

NIU performed a comprehensive salary equity study in 2008 that was subsequently updated in 2011. These analyses showed no relationship between gender, ethnicity, age and salary. It’s time again to review parity in faculty salaries using statistical analyses to address concerns about systemic bias. Moreover, we need to build into our five-year budget process the resources to perform such analyses at regular intervals.

The regression model and study design used in 2008 were developed with extensive input from the faculty, informed by the work of three committees drawn from across the campus in a manner consistent with NIU’s system of shared governance as described in the reference cited above. In preparation for NIU’s next salary equity study, Faculty Senate President Greg Long will charge a task force with making recommendations about the processes used to examine salary structures for inequities. We expect the task force to propose a statistical model and study design with minimal potential to mask bias. In addition, we hope the task force will suggest cost-effective, transparent options for conducting salary studies at regular intervals, so that disparities attributable to race and/or gender or other biases can be identified and remedied. Long will be advising the campus community about how to become involved in this work, and the time-lines for presentation of the recommendations.