UFF-FAMU raises concerns about faculty pay gap

Photo courtesy: famu.edu

In early September, Florida A&M University President Larry Robinson released letters announcing a performance-based wage increase for eligible faculty, administrators and staff.

“It gives me great pleasure to announce that special funding has been set aside to provide a recurring 3 percent performance-based wage increase, effective August 18, 2023, for eligible faculty,” Robinson said in a release.

As noted in the letter, to be eligible, faculty must have been hired on or before July 1, and remained employed with the university through Aug. 18. In addition, to be considered for the 3 percent increase, faculty must have also received a minimum “satisfactory” rating in their previous performance evaluation.

Similarly, eligible administrators and staff members must have received at least a “satisfactory” score on their most recent performance evaluation to receive a 2.5 percent increase. Furthermore, employment must have been by May 5, and continued through Aug. 18.

Faculty, staff, or administrators who received disciplinary action between July 1, 2022, and Aug. 18, 2023, were ineligible for the increase. Additionally, those given a notice of termination, submitted their resignation, or received a non-reappointment notice before Aug. 18, 2023, were also ineligible.

The university will cover performance-based increases for those eligible through its primary budget, the E&G funds. However, qualified employees paid by non-E&G funds may receive the increase contingent upon available funding.

It should be noted that countless staff members were ineligible for the increases. Many include Other Personal Services (OPS) employees and those covered by collective bargaining agreements.

Although many said they were pleased by the president’s efforts to increase pay, clarification on the discrepancies between pay for FAMU staff and its sister State University System institutions is needed.

“Other schools in Tallahassee have provided significant salary increases over the past two years, FAMU has not,” United Faculty of Florida-FAMU chapter President Roscoe Hightower, Jr., wrote in a letter to FAMU’s faculty. “FSU has provided a 5.25% salary increase for 2023 on top of a 5.6% salary increase for 2022. Even TCC provided 5% in 2022 and 6% in 2023.”

In the most recent federal Department of Education salary averages (2020-21), FAMU’s average professor salary is at the bottom compared to all other Florida SUS institutions. FSU’s salary average for instructors, assistant, associate and full-time professors is $109,621. In comparison, FAMU’s salary average is $76,699.

The nearly $33,000 pay difference has substantially affected faculty. With the cost of living in Tallahassee increasing, the pay gap has contributed to economic hardship for some faculty.

Faculty have been advocating for better pay for the last decade. Many have pointed out the salary increase for President Robinson to bring more attention to the pay gap.

In a meeting with Florida A&M University’s Board of Trustees, Trustee Kevin Lawson recommended an 18% bonus and a contract extension for Robinson. Which ultimately increased his current $451,711 base salary, although it received an increase just last year from $436,000. Without hesitation, trustees voted and approved this recommendation during the meeting earlier this month.

This left faculty to ask why the pay-gap discrepancy has received little to no attention.

UFF-FAMU continues to speak out regarding this ongoing issue. Currently, there is no agreement between the university and UFF-FAMU regarding the current administrative discretionary increase (ADI).

“Respectfully, we are appreciative of the ADI, but at the same time we expect more from FAMU leadership regarding setting strategic goals while providing a means to facilitate achieving those goals,” Hightower said.