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APLU Co-Led Aspire Alliance Launches New Effort to Develop & Share Best Practices for Addressing Faculty Compensation Disparities

October 8, 2021

Washington, DC – Aiming to address pay inequities among university faculty, a multidisciplinary research team from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)-led NSF INCLUDES Aspire Alliance, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the American Association of University Women, today launched a new effort to expand knowledge of best practices for faculty compensation to a broader community in higher education and provide insights to guide compensation practices.

Let’s Talk Money: Building Community Understanding of the Institutional Compensation System,” a $1.3 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE Partnership grant, draws on experiences gained through an ongoing salary equity initiative implemented as part of RIT’s Institutional Transformation project. This project built on salary studies from an earlier IT-Catalyst project, both funded by the NSF ADVANCE program.

Carol Marchetti, a professor in RIT’s School of Mathematical Sciences and associate director of the Research Center on Teaching & Learning at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, led the salary equity activities on the past project and is the principal investigator on the newly awarded grant.

“No one likes to talk about compensation, and possible inequity, in particular,” Marchetti said. “Data doesn’t provide all of the answers, but we can use the data as a stepping stone to begin the difficult conversations that people need to have. Our goal is to change the conversation around salary in higher education.”

The project involves workshops, coaching sessions, and organizational action plans for partner institutions Drexel University, Gallaudet University, and Villanova University. Input from women of color and deaf and hard-of-hearing women will be integrated into the design and assessment of project resources. Expected outcomes include implementation of compensation-related accountability measures, improved faculty understanding of pay practices, increased comprehension of equity among salary decision-makers, and infrastructure changes to support ongoing progress. And, finally, the reach of the project will expand to include additional universities and institutions through the partnerships with the American Association of University Women, NSF INCLUDES Hub, and the Aspire Alliance/APLU.
Jessica Bennett, co-PI, is director of STEM education at APLU and Institutional Change Initiative co-lead with the Aspire Alliance and will lead strategic dissemination of grant results by expanding and adapting the learning from RIT, Drexel, Galludet, and Villanova to institutions in the NSF INCLUDES National Network, the Aspire Alliance IChange Network, and APLU member institutions.

“This ADVANCE partnership award connects with the work current network members are doing to revise their policies, practices, and cultures to create more inclusive environments for underrepresented STEM faculty,” said Bennett. “Addressing compensation is a natural extension of their current focus on recruitment, hiring, and retention practices. We are also excited to incorporate learning about how to better support deaf and hard of hearing faculty.”

Current IChange Network members, as well as other APLU member institutions, will be invited to join a special cohort of the network. Cohort activities will include a series of workshops to build academic and administrative leaders’ capacity in engaging in compensation analysis, building more equitable compensation systems, and developing training efforts for compensation decision-makers and faculty on their campuses. Members of the cohort will be engaged in a concurrent learning community to better apply this work at public universities. 
“Not everyone has someone to go to bat for them when it comes to salary compensation and negotiations,” added Marchetti. “But, improving the culture around compensation is one way that we can make a difference for our students and colleagues.”
 

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