What: Rutgers AAUP-AFT press conference
When: Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 11 a.m.
Where: Watch live at the Rutgers AAUP-AFT Facebook page
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers University professors will speak at a press conference Tuesday, December 7, at 11 a.m. to update the media about the union’s pay equity lawsuit and issues of discrimination and fairness at the state university’s Camden campus.
The press conference will take place immediately before the last Rutgers Board of Governors meeting of the year. Several of the press conference speakers will also address the board.
At the last Board of Governors meeting in October, professors and staff members were joined by state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg in delivering a blistering critique of the Rutgers administration’s mishandling of a faculty salary equity program. Initial decisions in the program shortchanged more than 100 faculty members by at least $750,000 and probably close to $1 million in all, according to an analysis by Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the union representing full-time faculty, grad workers, and postdoctoral associates.
Later in the meeting, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said his administration heard the criticisms “loud and clear” and promised it would “address pay equity concerns in a way such that you will not have to come back to the Board of Governors repeating these very powerful and poignant stories and personal sentiments again.”
But faculty have seen little progress, said Deepa Kumar, a professor of journalism and media studies and one of five female plaintiffs in a lawsuit that charges Rutgers violated New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, which was shepherded into law by Weinberg.
“I’m paid about $50,000 less per year than a white male colleague who was hired the same year that I was and who does the same work that I do,” Kumar said. “Yet Rutgers is only willing to close 20 percent of that pay gap, trampling over the principle of equal pay for equal work. We will never be the ‘beloved community’ that President Holloway aspires to if women and people of color continue to be treated as second-class citizens.”
Faculty salary equity is directly connected to an explosive controversy that has emerged at Rutgers-Camden, the smallest of the three main university campuses. In late October, Howard Marchitello, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) in Camden and one of the campus’s most respected leaders, was abruptly fired, apparently because he was publicly critical of “chronic underinvestment” at Rutgers-Camden and of the mishandled pay equity program, which treated Camden faculty even more unfairly than colleagues on other campuses.
CAS faculty demanded answers from Camden Chancellor Antonio Tillis and Provost Daniel Hart at a rare all-faculty meeting last month. When Tillis refused to provide an explanation, citing “personnel” matters, faculty voted “no confidence” in Tillis and Hart by wide margins. These were the first-ever no confidence votes in a top administrator at Rutgers-Camden and only the second in the past half-century elsewhere in the Rutgers system.
“It’s a mistake to read the furor around the termination of Dean Marchitello as a personnel issue,” said Keith Green, director of Africana Studies at Rutgers-Camden and an associate professor of English. ”It’s a policy issue. The Camden campus is grossly under-resourced, and this is a policy decision made by the Rutgers administration. Marchitello was vocal about this inequity. Regardless of who is dean, we need resources for our campus, whether it’s pay equity or adequate student services. It’s unacceptable for us to be the stepchild within the Rutgers University ‘beloved community.’”
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