Low faculty salaries and inadequate library services were two weaknesses mentioned repeatedly by review committees that examined nine University of Utah departments, the U. Institutional Council heard this week.
U. Provost James L. Clayton said although the reviewed departments received good ratings, weaknesses were also spelled out, the two most often mentioned being low faculty salaries and inadequate library services that can be directly related to the U.'s struggles to maintain adequate state funding.The reviews, conducted by the U. Graduate Council, include an external review committee of faculty members from out-of-state universities and an internal review committee with senior U. faculty members from other departments.
The reviewers looked at the departments of English, educational studies, ethnic studies, health services administration, chemistry, modern dance, the experimental pathology program and the School of Architecture.
The provost pointed out that it is unusual for a university not only to review itself but to release the results in a public meeting.
"We have the belief that the public has a right to know what is happening at its institution, not only the strengths but the weaknesses," Clayton said.
He said the U. administration believes that the more the public knows about its state university, the more the public will care about it.
In going over the individual reviews, Clayton said that reviewers found "extraordinary quality" and high morale despite the low salaries and funding problems.
However, he added, the reviews also commented on the fragility of many departments, noting that if several key faculty left for higher salaries elsewhere, the department's quality would suffer.
"It takes a long time to build it (quality) and not very long to lose it," Clayton said.
Reviewers noted the national reputation of the English Department, saying it attracts outstanding students from across the country. However, they also said "salaries are low by national standards, and current recruitment policies have created an extreme salary compression problem."
They also wrote that "library collections do not meet the instructional and scholarly needs of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students."
School of Architecture reviewers questioned the completeness and availability of library materials. A chemistry reviewer viewed the Marriott Library's chemistry collection as a concern.
The reviewers said modern dance department, considered one of the top dance departments in the country, had difficulty in attracting faculty talent "due to low salaries and the unavailability of funding."
Those reviewing the finance department said that the relatively low salaries there, compared to those in the marketplace, will mean there is "a very real possibility that some faculty with several years experience will be making significantly less than newly hired faculty with no real track record."
In the educational studies department, the reviewers said, "University resources are lacking to keep outstanding young faculty. Sixteen of the department's 28 full-time faculty looked for different positions last year because of their low salaries and the lack of anticipated additional compensation in the future. Four of the 13 new (since 1980) faculty have left for higher salaries."