Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GU Rescinds Med Center Pay Policy

GU Rescinds Med Center Pay Policy

By Andy Amend Hoya Staff Writer

Georgetown has rescinded a suspended Medical Center faculty compensation plan that gave rise to faculty complaints more than a year ago and led to a faculty lawsuit filed against the university last month. The policy, created in an attempt to curb financial losses at the Medical Center, had partially tied the salaries of faculty to the amount of money faculty members brought in, in terms of outside grants.

University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. and the Georgetown Board of Directors made the decision together. They also directed the Medical Center Comprehensive Review Team to develop a new Medical Center pay policy.

Both moves are in line with last week’s recommendations by the Medical Center Comprehensive Review Team, which was created last fall to review modifications to the policy in light of a financial and budgetary analysis of the Medical Center.

O’Donovan and the Board made their decisions during this week’s meeting of the Board of Directors and announced them in a press release Thursday night.

Pharmacology professor Karen Gale, a faculty plaintiff, praised the rescinding of the policy, saying, “It’s absolutely to be commended.” However, she said faculty members would continue with their lawsuit short of some reassurance by the university that any new payment would be optional for current faculty members.

The lawsuit claims that the university violated the principles of tenure by implementing the rescinded policy and failing to abide by its own process for redressing grievances. Gale and Robert Glazer of the Pharmacology Department released a position statement Thursday night on behalf of the faculty plaintiffs that outlined the faculty’s charges.

The statement has three main points, the first of which holds that “tenure represents a continuing contractual agreement . that cannot be abrogated, other than in cases of disciplinary action. One major point in the original faculty complaint, filed with the university in December 1997, was that the new policy was imposed rather than elective, meaning faculty members did not have a choice to accept the plan.

The imposition of a new pay policy in this fashion, Gale said, represents a unilateral move on the part of the university to alter tenured professors’ contracts, and therefore violates the principles of tenure.

Faculty members have also said that by tying salaries in part to the procurement of outside grants, the new pay policy violated the financial security inherent in tenure.

The school, however, has stated that the rescinded policy was consistent with the principles of tenure. Medical Center spokesman Paul Donovan said in a statement issued Monday that the plan was “designed to protect tenure, ensure academic freedom and preserve economic security.”

O’Donovan and the Board’s decision said that a new plan is to be drafted by a Comprehensive Review Team subcommittee, comprised of tenured clinical and basic science Medical Center faculty, as well as other clinical Medical Center faculty, according to the press release.

“The subcommittee will be charged with developing a new Medical Center compensation policy that, in addition to attracting wide consensus among the faculty, will be consistent with the overall needs and objectives of the university and the Medical Center,” the press release said.

The second point of the faculty position statement reads, “No committee or group composed of administrators, Board members and/or faculty, no matter how well intentioned is empowered to bargain, regarding existing employment contracts, on behalf of the faculty as a whole or any individual tenured faculty member.”

“It wouldn’t matter if there were 99 faculty members on a committee that gave consent [to a new pay policy],” Gale said. “It can’t be binding on anyone that doesn’t agree.”

Gale left open the possibility that a new policy could be negotiated that would not require the consent of individual faculty members, if the university allowed faculty members to engage in collective bargaining. However, Georgetown does not currently have a faculty union, nor are private universities required to allow faculty to unionize, she said.

The faculty position statement also holds that “the faculty grievance code is inextricably tied to academic freedom and that the grievance process set forth by this code in the faculty handbook represents the fundamental mechanism for redress of threats to academic freedom.”

Donovan maintained in Monday’s statement that the review team was “a fair approach made in the spirit of cooperation and collegiality.”

More to Discover