Professors at Florida A&M have mixed feelings following Gov. Rick Scott’s release of the salaries for all state university employees online.
The salaries for university faculty and administrators at all 11 of Florida public universities were posted on FloridaHasARightToKnow.com. The website was created by the governor as part of his initiative to stop wasteful spending and let taxpayers know how their money is being spent.
The release of the state employee salaries is part of Scott’s efforts to “hold government accountable” and to have a “transparent” budget, according his letter available on the website. Scott has made pushes to change higher education rules and spending.
However, some argue that the publication has deeper political motives.
FAMU Health Informatics and Information Management Instructor Lauralyn Burke said that although her salary is available to the public, the format in which the post was made “is out of context.” “As a state employee, all of the stuff is public information. The fact that it was thrown out there, it’s more of a political move…. It serves no purpose,” said Burke. “It’s one thing if you are analyzing positions, programs or research (done by a professor), but to throw up a table that has a name and number, it doesn’t tell you anything.” Burke said that although the salaries appear to range widely from professor to professor, it does not compare tenure or the professor’s background and qualifications.
Keith Simmonds, a FAMU political science professor and assistant dean, said he does not have a problem with the release of the document.
“It could be a two way sword, depending on who is to benefit on the publishing of such data, but for me, I’m perfectly comfortable with it,” Simmonds said. “Whatever the motive, time will tell.”
“This kind of publicizing of faculty salaries…might help the cause of those who believe they might have been underpaid. For someone who wishes to do a comparative study might be helped [by the publication],” said Simmonds.
Earlier this year, Scott made similar reforms to education like those made in Texas, where they have moved to a merit-based pay system with limits on tenure.
Florida lawmakers have already abolished tenure for new grade school instructors and have applied a more academic performance based pay. The changes were alarming to many instructors at the college level.
Among university faculty, certain professors from the University of Florida and the University of South Florida are among the highest paid.