Published: March 4, 2022

Provost Russell Moore told the Boulder Faculty Assembly Thursday that the second phase of campus work on salary equity following the implementation of the Colorado Equal Pay for Equal Work Act earlier in the spring semester would be led by faculty members and supported by the CU Boulder administration. 

Moore attended Thursday’s meeting of the BFA General Assembly at the request of BFA Chair Tiffany Beechy to answer questions about the level of BFA and faculty involvement in implementing the state law’s provisions and to give Moore a chance to explain how faculty would be involved in phase two of salary equity setting—efforts centered on eliminating salary inequities based on salary compression, market forces and differential approaches to awarding merit pay among CU Boulder’s many departments. 

Moore apologized to the BFA for ineffective communication on the phase one efforts, which were “an exercise to comply with state law” for both faculty and staff salaries. He said that effort had not adequately informed faculty or the BFA and Staff Council, which he called “a shortcoming of the process.”

“The intent was to keep the focus on the working groups [analyzing faculty and staff salaries] in this phase, knowing we’d do a more comprehensive analysis downstream,” Moore said. “That was poorly communicated, and I bear responsibility for that.”  

Moore said phase two of the project would be markedly different, saying “faculty will be the drivers.”

“We will give you the data and policies to examinewe’re here to support you,” he said.  

Moore heard a variety of input from BFA members on the phase two process and what its focus should be.

He and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Resource Management Ann Schmiesing both acknowledged concerns expressed by BFA member Rolf Norgaard of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and by Alastair Norcross of Philosophy that the Office of Academic Affairs’ current efforts to create new policies on raises tied to promotions should include instructor-class faculty in all their newly classified ranks.

Moore also validated concerns by BFA member Samira Mehta (Jewish Studies) that new faculty members who receive above market assistant professor salaries quickly see that salary advantage eaten up by Boulder’s costly housing market. 

“You’re absolutely right,” Moore said. “Our assistant professors are hired at slightly higher levels than our AAU public peers—but when you look at where they are, in Kansas, Iowa...these are not in places with a high cost of living.” 

Moore said the administration was in conversations with the CU system on “how we do our faculty housing program and possibly redoing it.” 

The conversation closed on a question by former BFA chair and current member Bob Ferry of History, who asked if the faculty committee that would take on phase two salary issues would be appointed by the BFA or the faculty, or by administrators. 

Moore said he was supportive of the BFA having “a heavy hand” in the process of selecting faculty members on the committee and was also open to drawing committee membership directly from the membership of college and school faculty governance groups, which was suggested by Beechy. 

“I think it would be perfectly appropriate if the governing bodies in the colleges selected them,” Moore said.  

“I think there is a big discovery phase in this,” Moore said of the work the committee would do.

In other action in the BFA meeting

  • Campus Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke told the group, in clarifying the campus’s mask-optional policy announced this past Monday and going into effect on Monday, March 7, that it was acceptable for faculty to ask students to wear masks in class if faculty were experiencing health issues or concerns, but that they could not require the wearing of masks in class. 
  • Voted to approve:
    • A resolution that would ban CU faculty, staff and students from wagering on the outcomes of CU Division I sports teams, similar to measures adopted at Villanova University, St. John’s University and Purdue University. The resolution passed with 39 in favor, two opposed and two abstentions.
    • A resolution that would create a set of changes to the role and charge of the BFA Grievance Advisory Committee, creating empowered advisors for those faculty involved in grievance procedures, among other measures. This passed with 40 in favor, zero opposed and three abstentions. 
  • Introduced as 30-day notices of motion: 
    • A resolution to codify “promising practices” that academic units can undertake to credit diversity, equity and inclusion work by faculty as part of the merit evaluation process. 
    • A resolution to pressure the faculty-staff retirement investment firm TIAA to withdraw its investments from corporations that extract fossil fuels and engage in deforestation. The BFA will also hold a Zoom forum from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, to allow for further discussion on the motion.