Last Friday I received my contract for the 2011/2012 school year.
I was disappointed (to say the least) when I opened it. It was a 10-month contract for $53,800. The amount was up $2,800 (only a 5.5% increase when I was told 10%). I was expecting at least a $5,000 increase based on the conversation that I’d have with the dean of our college.
Also, it was still a 10-month contract, which I was sort of expecting – but when I found out that the other new professor in the department ALSO got a 10-month contract for no extra work, well, I got a little angry.
I took the weekend and a day or two to think about it and resolved that I’m going to attempt to negotiate my contract.
I feel a little greedy doing it, but I also am putting in a lot more work above and beyond what most people in my similar position are doing.
What I plan on doing is returning my contract unsigned, with the changes that I want, and a letter of explanation.
So what am I going to ask for?
I think I’m going to ask for either my base salary (no raise) on an 11-month contract (+1 month for being chair, +1 month for my extra iniatives in the department – which is the reason the other faculty member got an extra month). This would bring me to $56,100. I don’t think this is unreasonable.
Actually, let me rephrase, I’ll settle for that number above.
I’ll ASK for an 11-month contract with the raise amount. This would be $59,180. I don’t actually expect to get this much. While I would LOVE to have that much I don’t see it happening.
I plan to make clear in my letter to the Vice President that the first month is for chair duties and the second month is for the projects that I want to see happen in the department including (but not limited to):
- Starting an American Chemical Society student chapter here on campus. I’ve already made steps towards making this happen and have even devised a plan to integrate students from the local community college to increase transfers from that school.
- Starting an Honor’s section of General Chemistry in tandem to the “regular” General Chemistry to attract more honor’s students. This year 3 of my 25 General Chem students are Honor’s students. Next year that number will be up to around 10. When 1/2-1/3 of your class is an Honor’s student it helps to provide them a little more bang in the class. I am planning on offering them a 30 minute weekly seminar where we go more in depth to the topics we cover in class and really start to show them the connections. This would take the form of an Honor’s Contract that they’d make with me. I’m VERY excited about doing this, but also I recognize that it will take time from my class prep and chair duties.
- A complete revamping of the Chemistry curriculum for upper division students. Right now our class offerings are inefficient to the upper division students. I want to revamp the upper division classes to they get a breadth of chemistry knowledge rather than in depth study of just 4 topics. Both myself and the other Chemistry professor see this as a great option, it will just take planning and initiative to make it happen. Both of which are expected to come from me.
- Starting a monthly “Science Saturday” for local 4th – 6th graders on campus to expose them to our program at a younger age. I see this as a way to get our undergrads connected to the science in a fun way AND to bring future students to campus. We’ll offer this as a free program that we’ll fund through soap sales in December from the Chemistry department and plant sales in the spring from the Biology department. As well, we have a grant to start the initial program.
- Starting a summer research program on campus including:
- Grant writing to fund summer research (including faculty summer salary compensation)
- Time investment in finding research collaborators (will spend two weeks this summer with a collaborator brainstorming grant ideas on my own dime)
- Time investment in getting preliminary results of said research during the summer
I personally want all of these things to become sustaining entities or well on their way to being sustaining by the end of the next academic school year. All of these are things that will better our department and increase student enrollment over time, but without the monetary compensation for my efforts it will be difficult to motivate myself to do these things in addition to teaching and chair duties – especially since most of these activities would take place during my weekend and summer time.
I also want to make it clear that the additional 11th month in the contract would only be expected as long as I am continuing to make progress on these goals with the end point expectation being that eventually I would procure summer research funding that would pay for my own summer salary and stipends for students.
So – I have to ask. Do you guys think I’m being unreasonable? Should I just take what is being offered or try to fight for what I think is fair? Keeping in mind of course the fact that our school is in a huge financial hole right now.
(P.S. – It should be noted that I know for a fact that another school in the same family of school’s is DESPERATELY trying to fill a Chemistry position for the Fall. It is in Nashville, which would not be a bad location, and could be a huge bargaining chip in my favor. I don’t want to leave, but just saying the pieces are out there for an exceptionally successful negotiation.)