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Summer MAP compensation

Today’s musing is a draft message. It returns us to an early model of these musings, in which I used the musings to prepare things that I planned to write. If my readers have any additional suggestions, I would love to hear them.

Dear Council Members, Dean Latham, and VP Walker,

I recently learned of a change in policies regarding compensation for summer MAPs. In particular, I learned that faculty members who have also received external funding for their summer work will not receive the MAP bonus that was included as part of the approved changes in policies on MAP compensation and Sabbaticals. I find the change in MAP compensation policy troubling. I also find it troubling that this change was not revealed to us during the deliberations on the broader changes, even though it was already in the works.

I understand that, at first glance, it may seem like a faculty member is double dipping by receiving both summary salary and the MAP bonus. However, it has been clear throughout the history of the MAP project that the MAP compensation was never intended as salary. Rather, it served as a bonus to incentivize faculty to pursue a particular kind of research. In particular, that bonus was not available to faculty who did independent studies or +2’s, taught summer students under the 399 rubric, or hired research assistants who did not receive academic credit. That difference reveals that the compensation was intended to incentivize faculty to push their projects toward work that the students could present externally and that provided especially high academic value for the students. The incentive helped ensure that the students were true collaborators and not merely bottle washers.

Since the summer MAP bonus remains unavailable to faculty members who teach summer 399’s, who have summer research assistants who do not receive academic credit, or who supervise summer for-credit internships, it appears to remain an incentivizing bonus rather than salary for work performed.

We have made it an institutional priority that faculty members participate in MAPs with students. We clearly want faculty to pursue external funding. We should therefore have policies in place that encourage faculty to do both.

I realize that funding agencies may not understand the not-so-subtle difference between a salary and an incentivizing bonus, and so giving those bonuses may put us at risk of non-compliance. If you feel that we cannot successfully argue the difference, then the College has an obligation to find an acceptable alternative incentivizing bonus plan. Here are two possibilities: Rather than giving the faculty member $5,000, you could add $5,000 to their research funds or you could provide them with an additional raise of $500. I am sure that you can come up with others that would also not put us at risk of non-compliance.

In any case, I remain troubled that these changes have not been made transparently. I hope that you will bring them to the divisions for further discussion.


Samuel A. Rebelsky, Professor and Chair of Computer Science

p.s. I also remain troubled by the compensation we provide to summer students. Particularly since we have eliminated the summer tuition contribution waiver, $8.50 per hour is low for this work. These students are doing research, and should receive at least the normal top wages. But even those wages may not be enough for students who need to come up with the expected student contribution to tuition. Given that we have eliminated the summer waiver for research students, that students are expected to pay for housing and room and board, and that we do not permit students to take on other work, it makes it much more challenging for them to come up with the expected contribution. In case you weren’t aware, students doing NSF-funded REUs typically receive $5,000 for a ten week project plus room, board, and transportation.

Version 1.0 of 2017-05-03.