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Western Michigan U. Faculty Union Votes to Censure Provost

A faculty union at Western Michigan University has voted to censure the institution’s provost over what some professors assert is his mishandling of gender-equity issues concerning female faculty members, The Kalamazoo Gazette reported.

A study commissioned by the university’s administration as a result of a 2008 contract with the union found that female professors earned, on average, 4 percent less than their male colleagues, according to the newspaper. The union’s 2011 contract, which expires next year, included steps to rectify that disparity.

Under a plan outlined by the administration this year, as many as 300 female professors were eligible to receive gender-equity adjustments in their pay. The payments were expected to be included in the first paychecks of the semester, but were delayed.

Faculty members approved a resolution to censure the provost, Timothy J. Greene, at a meeting on October 18. Professors said the vote followed the delays and what they said was a lack of transparency in the administration’s handling of the pay adjustments. The censure is considered more severe than a reprimand but less severe than a vote of no confidence.

A university spokeswoman said in an email to the newspaper that the vote was a “puzzling move” given what she said was Mr. Greene’s “commitment, stated repeatedly over the past many months, to move carefully and ensure that any equity issues be addressed in a way that factors in all of the complexities that can be part of such an initiative.” She said he had stated that any pay adjustments would be retroactive to the start of the academic year, “so that taking the time to ensure fairness does not adversely impact anyone whose salary will be adjusted.”

She added that it was “unfortunate” that taking time to deal with the matter was being criticized, saying, “speed is not the goal here. A thoughtful process is.”

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