“A rise in the cost of living chipped away at salary gains by full-time faculty members in the 2017-18 academic year, according to new survey data published on Wednesday by the American Association of University Professors. Full-time faculty earned an average of 3 percent more than they did in the prior academic year. But that salary increase was cut by nearly two-thirds, to 1.1 percent, after adjusting for inflation.” — The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 11, 2018

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Dear Extremely Appreciated Faculty,

Thank you for attending today’s
College faculty meeting,
Where we had a lively and
Engaging discussion about the fact that
Your salaries are crap.

Put more precisely, it appears that
Your salaries at all ranks are significantly lower
Than salaries at comparable institutions,
And that the mean rate of increase in professors’ salaries
Is also significantly lower than at these
Traditional cross-admit institutions.
The American Association of University Professors
Has also totally rubbed it in our face
That ​raises have not kept pace with inflation.
If you are an Assistant Professor
At the beginning of your would-be glorious career,
You are actually making less money
Than in the past, so you will need to
Scale back your retirement plans from
Fly fishing and Viking River Cruises
To something more along the lines of
Falling into your grave while reading a paper
About Ophelia and madness.

Before we respond to these
Pesky numbers and percentages,
We would like to say
How much we appreciate you –
Both our tenure-track and tenured faculty,
With their crap salaries,
And our faculty on renewable contracts,
Whose salaries are even more crap than
Our permanent faculty’s crap salaries.
We so massively and hugely appreciate you,
As one might learn to appreciate a
Strange and unconventional food
That they feel should cost less than it does.

We would like to make a few crucial points.
First, we should not paint
All departments with the same brush.
The faculty at the Business School
Appears to be #thriving,
And although we don’t have
The salary figures handy
For humanities departments,
We assume that humanities faculty
Do not concern themselves with
Grossly material things
Like health and money and the houses they live in
Because they get to read books all day,
And that’s hardly a job at all!

Secondly, although it has been suggested that
Due to crap salaries, the university
Stands in a weak competitive position
With regard to recruiting and retaining the best faculty,
We would like to note that we have an excellent rate
Of faculty retention – which is certainly not because
There are no other jobs
Literally anywhere,
Including under rocks,
And is definitely because
Everyone is thrilled to stay at this university
And no one minds their crap salaries
Because they are #gratefultohaveajobatall
And want to

And so before proceeding further,
We would like to say again how much
We appreciate you.
We. Appreciate. You.
Indeed, we have said before
How much we appreciate you.
You probably remember
Some of these times,
At various meetings and events.
Maybe you remember five of them. Or ten?
There have been so many
Because you are so appreciated.

We would also like to note that
This pressing issue of crap salaries is
Absolutely foremost in our minds,
And we take seriously the need to
Hold some meetings about it
In the coming century or so,
Certainly before any opening of seals
Or Four Horsemen
Or what-not.

It has been brought to our attention that
The question of crap salaries
Was raised a decade ago
And that nothing ever came of it.
Unlike Edith Piaf, we regret this
(Although we don’t really remember it),
And we’re certain that at an
Unspecified moment in the future,
We will be in a position to look over some
Stacks of paper
Pertaining to this matter,
And maybe think some things about it,
When we are not doing something
More important
Like asking humanities departments
To justify their existence,
Preferably in relationship to
Science or capitalism.

We would like to underscore
That we remain committed to the
Possible possibility
Of competitive salaries for our faculty,
As we are committed to becoming
The finest liberal arts finishing school for
Business majors
In the country.
That said, we’re sure you understand
That the question of raises is complicated,
Like your cousin Larry’s Facebook relationship status,
Or Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic Expedition,
But without the sea ice and misery.

In the meantime, we plan to issue
Appreciation Certificates
To all faculty
So you feel appreciated.
These Appreciation Certificates are a lot like
Our Teaching Awards,
Which is another thing we give out
Instead of raises.
These official and important documents
Will be delivered to your departments
By the tractor-trailer load, and you can
Decide whether to put yours on your fridge,
Next to your kid’s painting of the
Monstrous unicorn that lives under his bed,
Or display it above your mantel
In a gilded gold frame
In the antique Florentine style.

The first round of Appreciation Certificates
Will be awarded to professors who have
Generously offered to teach a pilot course
For the university for free.
That’s right: these kind souls volunteered
To teach for a major private American university
For absolutely no money at all!
Can you imagine? How thoughtful of them.
We can’t believe that we didn’t think of this
Their selflessness is a marvel,
And we really appreciate it.
If anyone else would like to give away
Their labor, please drop us a line.

In closing, we would like to underscore
That we appreciate you
Every day, in every way,
Other than the monetary.
If you need to contact us with questions,
We will be free as soon as we hire
A few new deans
And found a new office.

Your university’s upper-level administrators,
Who appreciate not only you,
But the fact that we make more money than you