United Academics Member David Feurzeig's Remarks to the Board of Trustees

I’m David Feurzeig, Associate Professor of Music. I’ve been a member of this faculty for six years, and hope to remain many more. When people ask if I’m a Vermonter, I tell them no one chooses where to be born, but here is where I plan to die.

Recently, our central administration announced the formation of a Council to review UVM’s administrative units. The eight units slated for review this year do not include the offices of the President, Provost, or Deans. Gary Derr, VP for Executive Operations, told the Faculty Senate President that there is currently no plan to do such reviews.

I am asking that the administration and this board correct that omission. A review of leadership offices is especially important for three reasons.

First, administrative compensation has grown out of proportion to all other areas of the university. From 2002 to 2012, the number of top executive positions (those at VP level and above) swelled by 52%, while student enrollment grew 40% and full-time faculty positions increased by only 10%. The average salary for these top 35 administrators grew as well, by 53%, to $210,851. The chart in my handout out illustrates these trends.

UVM’s excessive administrative pay has been the subject of sustained public attention, from stories in the student-run Vermont Cynic to area media and even national coverage by ABC News and the Washington Monthly. United Academics has compiled an archive of about three dozen selected pieces. I encourage you to browse them to see how much this issue rankles in a state with a proud tradition of frugality.

Second, the upper administration has recently advanced, at great cost, several major initiatives that were never implemented. This is largely because they were put forward without serious regard for faculty input. Yet according to the Faculty Senate bylaws, the authority to establish policy regarding academics and research is “vested in the faculty by the Board of Trustees”. A comprehensive review of the university must include a complete accounting of recent administrative initiatives and their outcomes.

Finally, a thorough review of the central administration will set a positive tone for the other university-wide reviews. In keeping with “Our Common Ground's” expressed values of openness and responsibility,[2] the administration should seek the broadest possible input. This will do much to rebuild the trust of the faculty and staff, which has been eroded by what is perceived as administrative overreach and under-accountability.

Thank you for your attention.