Comments on: Dean Dad makes you a counteroffer you can’t refuse: zilch! History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:08:09 +0000 hourly 1 By: Shaz Sun, 26 Jul 2009 01:03:23 +0000 Re: leaving 18 months after accepting a counter offer: my institution requires retained faculty to sign an agreement that they won’t leave for X years (I’ve seen up to 5) after accepting the retention offer, or be forced to pay back the excess.

And outcomes are obviously different at different institutions, but I certainly haven’t seen the 18 month leave date at my public institution.

We also have a fairly mechanistic salary scale, and I’d argue you DO get points for being the right gender: perceptions of what counts as achievement, ‘real’ scholarship, etc. is very tied to it, as innumerable studies have shown.

By: Historiann Fri, 24 Jul 2009 18:33:13 +0000 Your workplace is not my workplace. I’m not represented by a union, and I never have been at any of the four institutions I’ve taught (2 tenure-track jobs and 2 previous temporary jobs).

And, if you have read this blog, or any other feminist academic blog, you’ll read lots of stories about institutional loyalty when it comes to women and tenure. Funnily enough, it doesn’t always work out for us the way it does for the boys!

By: Dean Dad Fri, 24 Jul 2009 18:16:39 +0000 “We’re not the ones who make the rules, are we?”

Actually, yes. That’s the meaning of “collectively bargained.” The union helped set the rules, and agreed to them. And it was the union who brought the grievances targeting deviations from the salary scale. For some reason, this basic truth keeps going unacknowedged.

As for loyalty, I’m sure you’ve heard of tenure. That sure looks like institutional loyalty to me.

Again, I don’t mind if people look elsewhere. People make their own choices for any number of reasons. But I’m not going to reward it, and I’m not going to pretend not to know that on average, someone who accepts a counteroffer leaves within 18 months anyway. (That point also went unacknowledged here, for whatever reason.)

It just isn’t as one-sided as you make it.

By: Historiann Fri, 24 Jul 2009 17:52:40 +0000 Meeeeeoooowww yourself, Dean Dad!

We used your general disapproval of competitive counteroffers to launch a general discussion that relates to a number of issues we’ve discussed here before, including especially sex bias in faculty salaries. So sorry it doesn’t rise to your “level.” But as you note, when you used the word “loyalty” (and implied its opposite) to describe people who keep their options open by applying for other jobs, that gets a lot of faculty members’ backs up.

In my experience and in the experience of others here, “loyalty” is used to bludgeon faculty into submission, and rarely is it returned. But we agree: you get what you pay for. We at 4-year institutions don’t see anything rewarded other than by demonstrating our market value by winning fellowships and other job offers. But, we’re not the ones who make the rules, are we?

By: Dean Dad Fri, 24 Jul 2009 17:37:35 +0000 Apparently, I’m late to this discussion. A few thoughts:

1. As the original post noted, the salary scale is collectively bargained. It is based on quantified criteria (points), and deviations from that salary scale have brought long and expensive legal action in the past. In considering whether to make a counteroffer, I’m not just looking at the individual person. I’m looking at the cost of the grievances, arbitrations, and settlements that will surely result. To leave that out is to get my argument fundamentally wrong.

2. The point system makes the gender argument a red herring. You don’t get points for gender. Starting salaries aren’t negotiated; they’re determined mechanistically, and either taken or not.

3. As Mark K. correctly noted, the resources at my disposal are finite. Even if I agree that someone is a top performer, there’s only so much I can afford to pay for that job. Sometimes, leaving is the best outcome. Just because you think you’re worth more than I can afford, doesn’t create on obligation on my part to indulge that. Start writing blank checks and you will quickly find that there’s no end to it.

That said, I agree that “loyalty” is a loaded word, and I should have chosen a better one. What I was trying to get at, which Mark K. pretty much got and you apparently didn’t, is that you get what you pay for. If you pay for internal performance, you’ll get it. If you pay for seniority, you’ll get that. And if you pay for people to spend their time looking for other jobs, you’ll get that. I prefer the first option, though some prefer others.

I’ll admit being somewhat disappointed in the level of this discussion. Thanks, at least, for defending me from the ‘dumb bunny’ charge.

By: Mark K. Thu, 16 Jul 2009 14:47:30 +0000 Historiann, thanks! I do think sometimes it’s just about the money, but I am also used to looking at money as part of “fit.” At this point, I can’t separate out budgets from other aspects of organizational culture. (Rad Readr — your comment about choice rings true, which is a big part of why I count budgets as part of culture, instead of being something just “out there” like the weather). I have no idea if the same could be said about Dean Dad.

“Why don’t we deserve to be paid what we can get?”

A complicated question. My short answer is: you do.

As you’ve pointed out, though, “what faculty can get” is materially determined by administrators. The question of “are faculty wrong to seek counteroffers?” is very different from the question of “do counteroffers make sense as an administrative tool?” I don’t think faculty are wrong to seek counteroffers, or any other individual or collective action that improves their situation. (I’m a checks and balances kind of guy; I think something is wrong when people *aren’t* actively protecting their interests). I am agnostic about the relative effectiveness of counteroffers in generally maximizing faculty satisfaction and performance. (I just don’t know enough, and unsurprisingly, faculty and administrators seem to have widely varying opinions).

By: Rad Readr Thu, 16 Jul 2009 02:50:26 +0000 Mark-

Re: your comments: “As for “we expect you to work here for less”…granted, I’m an administrator. A library administrator, but an administrator no less. But I think this is a great oversimplification. It is less “we expect you to work here for less” than “we can’t pay you more than equally deserving folks just because you have someone else interested in you.” And the reality at my institution at least is that we can’t always pay everybody what they deserve relative to the market as a whole.”

My point in putting words in Dean Dad’s mouth was an interpretation of what he was saying. I was not talking about administrators in general. I too do some administrative work, but I try to avoid administrativespeak. Institutions make choices, and while I have no knowledge of your particular institution, I know that at a lot of places it may be something like “we can’t pay you more…because we’re pumping money into the new student center.” Now I know there are some good reasons to build a nice student center, but it’s still a choice. Maybe the choice is to support a different department or unit. Not so much we can’t — as we choose to put our money elsewhere.

By: Historiann Wed, 15 Jul 2009 20:56:24 +0000 Mark K.–thanks for your further explanation. I totally see where you’re coming from, and I think you say this especially well: “Not being able to keep a good person is not always a failure, and it frequently is not a commentary on the value placed on that person. Institutions have different resources, often widely different resources.” This is very true, and you conducted yourself honorably in the way you left for your “greener pasture.”

Perhaps it’s the corollary on the faculty perspective that I think is lost on Dean Dad. If I may borrow your phraseology, “Leaving a job for more money does not mean that one didn’t hold one’s former employer and colleagues in high esteem, nor is it necessarily a sign that faculty are ‘greedy’ or ‘disloyal.’” because as you say, “institutions have different resources, often widely different resources,” and we all have to pay our own bills.

Dean Dad’s comment that counteroffers are merely an “attempt to postpone the inevitable through a palliative that doesn’t address the real issues” suggests that he doesn’t understand that sometimes it really is the money. I have a colleague who is doing incredibly valuable and important work in a particular subfield, and who really likes her job and frequently comments that her current job saved her (professional) life because it permitted her to escape an abusive work environment. But–she left behind a job with a unionized faculty with great pay and benefits much more generous than we offer at Baa Ram U. She also is the main income for her family, so she has to think very practically. There’s no question but that she likes her job here and is highly successful–but there’s no doubt in my mind that if she gets offered a better-paying job she’ll be off in a flash. This is not because she is greedy or disloyal or “not a good fit.” It’s because she’s worried about paying her bills and putting her kids through college. C’est tout.

I think this is maybe a gentler way of saying what LadyProf said above! Why don’t we deserve to be paid what we can get? Why is it “disloyal” or evidence of a “bad fit” if we hit the market? (BTW, I had a post about our profession’s unusually money-phobic attitude, which I think is a class-inflected hangover from the days when we all were “gentleman scholars.” Just click here for a trip down memory lane…)

By: Mark K. Wed, 15 Jul 2009 20:37:55 +0000 Historiann:

I guess I’m not seeing as big a gap between your view and Dean Dad’s. I read him as saying that if deans create incentives for faculty to look around for other jobs (“disloyalty”), as opposed to incentives that reward local success (“performance”), then rational faculty are quite reasonably going to choose to look around. He seems quite aware of who is responsible for the incentive system.

As for “we expect you to work here for less”…granted, I’m an administrator. A library administrator, but an administrator no less. But I think this is a great oversimplification. It is less “we expect you to work here for less” than “we can’t pay you more than equally deserving folks just because you have someone else interested in you.” And the reality at my institution at least is that we can’t always pay everybody what they deserve relative to the market as a whole.

My reaction to staff who aren’t happy with what they’re being paid isn’t to tell them to “sit down and shut up,” it’s to be transparent with them about what can reasonably be expected to happen within institutional policies and politics, and to advocate for them when I’m persuaded by their case. Sometimes it works out, and they get a raise. Sometimes it doesn’t, and they leave for greener pastures.

As an administrator, I consider *both outcomes to be equally successful*. In both cases, I have been loyal to the individual (by first hearing them out and then advocating for them if appropriate) and to the library (by not destroying relationships with other units by making the individual’s case a hill to die on) and to the institution (by fulfilling my fiduciary responsibility). Both outcomes are not equally *happy*, but they are equally *successful*.

A personal anecdote…I was once the director of a small public library. When I received an offer from another library, they asked if they could make a counteroffer. I answered, honestly, that the amount of money it would take to get me to stay was larger than I could accept in good faith. They valued my performance and likely would have paid the extra money, and the library probably would have been managed better if I had stayed on longer. But it would have strained relationships with the city government, it would have pissed off the other employees (who had recently been denied raises so as not to embarrass the mayor, who had frozen the wages of city departments), and it would have made the budget wobbly.

The ethical decision was for me to leave for the greener pasture. I wasn’t silenced or disrespected. Everyone was just being realistic about the librarian job market and my particular status within it at that time.

The rest of what I would like to say, I am having trouble putting into words. Certainly, I agree with you that faculty should have leverage with administrators when it comes to discussing compensation. Certainly, there are administrators who prefer their faculty to be reliably quiet and compliant. For all I know, such administrators are the majority, and if so, you have my deepest sympathy. But, but, but. Not being able to keep a good person is not always a failure, and it frequently is not a commentary on the value placed on that person. Institutions have different resources, often widely different resources. And while administrators have some control over how resources are allocated, they don’t–especially in public institutions–always have much control over the size of the pie, or the size of some of the pieces (insurance, utilities, contractual obligations). “There are limits to what we can do” is not just a platitude, it’s the bedrock reality of life as an administrator.

All that said, on the question of whether counteroffers are better or worse than other ways of rewarding recognized achievement by faculty, I don’t really have the knowledge or experience to have an opinion.

By: LadyProf Wed, 15 Jul 2009 19:26:19 +0000 This guy seems to be whining that if only the damn faculty would stop being so damn disgruntled about their salaries, all would go well. He pathologizes discontent: if you’re not happy with your pay, you’re a bad fit at your school and should just leave.

I’d have more respect for this point of view if administrators weren’t so insistent on sowing hierarchy and zero-sum competition among their instructional staff. It’s a power trip for them. They never seem to favor uniformity in pay. They enjoy determining whether Prof X is better than Prof Y and sprinkling dollars accordingly. Any expression of entitlement or desert by X or Y is heresy, and must be squelched.