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Job Title/Raise Update


Hey guys! Thanks for all your awesome suggestions on this morning’s post! I haven’t been able to read/reply to all of them yet, but I did see a sampling of great ideas and I’ll be sure to reply later this evening. Thank you! As always, you’ve come through with great tips!

So, remember in mid-December when I mentioned wanting to ask my boss for a title change and raise? Well our meeting was just a couple hours ago and I wanted to give you a little update.

It’s a mixed bag but I’m happy with the results.

For privacy issues I’m going to try to be a little vague about exact title, etc.

Basically, I was hired as a non-tenure track faculty. However, my role has included a lot of administrative duties as I have worked both within my department and externally to really get our department’s online program off the ground (it just launched this Fall and, as you know, I have lots of experience working online since that’s what I’ve done the past several years).

Anyway, I’ve been taking on lots of duties that are really far beyond the scope of “non-tenure track faculty” as an intentional and strategic move to try to get my foot in this door. Of my own accord I’ve been taking additional training classes for online course design/instruction and have been meeting with people across campus in all kinds of departments (including people from content-based departments, IT staff, ID staff, etc. etc. etc.). I’ve been trying to forge relationships and get my name known amongst the various powers that be.

So in today’s meeting, I had a strong case for why my current title no longer matches up with the actual job duties I’m performing. I also typed up an actual proposal of title change that listed (in bulleted fashion) duties that I could perform in my new role as well as a second list of ways that this will benefit the department (of course, mostly revolving around money since dollars are the name of the game).

I didn’t write any actual numbers in my proposal. I wanted to be open. I’m currently on a 9-month contract but know my department head had wanted me to be on a 12-month contract. So what I’d had in my mind is that if I stay on a 9-month contract that I want a 20% raise (and I had lots of reasons to back up this specific figure). If I moved to a  12-month contract I would be willing to keep my current monthly salary (framing it as though I’m not actually getting a raise), but my salary would continue across all 12 months instead of the 9-months I currently work. In my last post I referred to this as a 25% raise in salary (I was thinking instead of 3/4 of the year, I’d now be working 4/4 of the year, hence 25% extra). But thoughtful commenters pointed out that I was being a dummy with my calculation. From a dollars perspective, this is actually a 33% raise over my current salary. So those were the two competing figures I had in mind, either of which I’d be happy with.

And here’s what I was told…

Basically, my department head does not have the authority to give me a raise. She would need to get approval (and funds) from another entity on campus that is control of online programs. She indicated that if things continued going well and the program continues to grow, she believes she could make a strong case for it “in the next year or two.” That was a huge bummer. I wasn’t expecting an immediate change, but I was hoping for a change over summer or by next Fall, so hearing the 1-2 year timeframe was a bit of a blow.

BUT, I’d made this compelling case for why I really needed this new title. So I was told that in the meantime, department head doesn’t care what I call myself. I’m totally seizing the opportunity, changing my e-mail signature, and am now going to give myself this more prestigious title (albeit, without the raise). I still think this is a good thing, because it will look good on my resume/vitae, and if I ever make a move down the road it will show longevity in this position. Good things.

But here’s where salary comes into play.

Remember how I mentioned that they really need me to work this summer? Like, bad. They need me to prep 3 courses AND teach a course. For any non-academic folks out there, that’s a full-time load! But I’m only on a 9-month contract. I don’t get paid over the summer.

So for this summer, specifically, I was told that department head thinks she can justify the need (from the separate entity in charge of online programs) for continuing my full-time pay all summer. In essence, giving me the 33% raise I was going to ask for had we ever gotten to talking about numbers!

It’s still not in-the-bag because department head has to get approval from the powers that be. But from my perspective there’s really no way around it. They NEED this work done NOW. There’s no putting it off until later down the road. They need it.

So I continue with my current contract for now. I’ve given myself (with department head’s blessing) a fancy new title. And I’ll (very likely) continue getting paid all summer. At the end of summer, maybe I can try again for re-negotiations. I really plan to make myself super invaluable not only to my department, but to the larger online program entity as well. As long as I continue doing good work and showing how this change will be mutually beneficial for all parties involved, I have to hope that this will be leading to a permanent increase in pay down the road. For now, I’m happy with the compromise.

What are your thoughts? You’ve got to remember that this is my first ever full-time job so I’m super inexperienced in terms of negotiations and such. I really value your expertise and would love to hear if you think I could’ve done something differently (or maybe can do something different in the future), or what your thoughts are on the situation.


  • Reply Adam |

    Sounds like a good result but the response on the raise and title is a bit of a cop out by your boss. Even if they don’t grant these things they framed it as if they certainly influence the process. If your boss can’t get you a raise ask her if she minds if you talk with the person who can. I bet she will backpedal so fast…. Anyway some negotiators say don’t talk to anyone except the decision maker. It’s sort of lazy for your boss to say they don’t decide but they won’t even advocate for you if you have a good case. You need to cut through that BS. Either she is or she isn’t. I’d say take your case to the decider or dig into why she won’t even put in a good word for you.

    When it comes to comp, your title also needs to be changed in the HR system. Letting you call yourself something different is just a way to appease you. The official title will determine if you are within your pay band.

    You may get the money by extending your contract t through the summer so that’s good but don’t give up if the overall rate is too low. Try again in 6 months if you can’t make any more progress now.

  • Reply Jill |

    Considering the current status of academia, I think you did great. I hope since summer usually comes out of a different fund that you will receive at least some compensation for this summer. I for one am proud of you.

  • Reply Louise |

    Am I the only one baffled by the idea of calling it a raise when what you actually want is more hours at the same hourly rate? Or did I misunderstand the situation?

    Well done on asking for what you want though!

    • Reply Ashley |

      I’d actually addressed this in my previous post. One of my bargaining stances is that I’m not really asking for a raise – just asking for more time to do my current job. However, from a numbers perspective, I’m asking for a significant amount of additional money on an annual basis so ultimately that’s how it will be seen by the dean.

  • Reply Theresa |

    So if you do the work for summer they have to pay you? They aren’t hoping that you do the work and just don’t mind not getting paid? I am not familiar with how academia works.

    • Reply Ashley |

      No, it’s pretty standard that people would get paid extra over the summer if they’re doing course prep. Otherwise, lots of faculty take off. I literally had one professor as a grad student who did high-adventure rock climbing stuff all summer long. No phones, computers, etc. Just checked out. No one is under contract during summer so faculty can do whatever they want with no expectation of them working.

  • Reply Ashley |

    Well, I think you did great! I was disappointed at first (and your boss totally did cop out), but they HAVE to pay you for the summer so I think you are on the right track. I absolutely believe in the “you get in life what you have the courage to ask for” mantra and so good for you! I work with a bunch of salaried coworkers and we open new stores once or twice a year where we work 12 hour days 7 days a week. I keep track of my hours and tell my boss I expect to be paid for the extra time, plus a small bonus (a gift card to our store). My coworker doesn’t ask for the same and is bitter and can’t figure why they won’t just give her the money. Um, because NO ONE will just give you money unless you ask for it. Anyway, my point is good work! You have come so far 🙂

  • Reply AT |

    Not surprised. Academic raises happen after the state legislature sets the budget for the new fiscal year, unless there’s another university poaching, and usually the new rate won’t begin until the new year. There’s a pool of money available to the dean, who divides it among the chairs, who divide it among the faculty. After they solve promotions, retentions and crises, there’s very little left. Often it’s a very short window between when the money is divided up at the high levels and the individual raise numbers are turned back in for payroll. Your job now is to find out from your department admin when the budget process happens. Most chairs hate doing it, procrastinate and then turn in their budgets with little opportunity to discuss your future, because they have so little to work with. You have to be in one of those three categories to create an opportunity. It’s hard for women to create the crisis, but it takes noise to get the money.

    BTW, an informal title change does not affect the official title on your academic appointment. Get that nailed down in your next contract.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thank you for the tips! I’m definitely at a disadvantage since I don’t know any of the timing of these things, but I can snoop around and hopefully pick up some clues!

  • Reply AT |

    You set up your contract as 9 months of work over 12 months of pay, right? Be prepared when they pay you over the summer to have your taxes go way up, because you are basically going to get 175% of your monthly amount. That will appear to the computers to put you in a much higher tax bracket. You’ll get it back on a tax refund or adjust your W4.

    To clarify, 75% is the 9/12s you had them “save” that they owe you from the spring semester, and then 100% for the summer work. I know one prof who lived on that 75% and used the 100% to fully load his 403B (like a 401K) contributions in the summer. You’ll probably want it for debt, but in the future if you go 9 over 12 on the academic year, if they don’t give you a 12 month appointment, it’s an option for you too if they keep topping up in the summer.

    • Reply Ashley |

      This actually isn’t accurate. I had the option to get paid over the course of 12 months, but I opted to stick with the 9 month pay schedule. My thought was that I’d be able to supplement the summer months from my part-time job & husband’s income. So if I end up getting paid at full-time job over the summer it could still impact my taxes, but not by as much as you’ve described here.

      • Reply AT |

        I couldn’t remember whether you decided to take your pay 9 over 12 or 9 over 9. I never worked with many 9/9 profs that didn’t have research grants to cover the other 3 months. Or at least 2 out of the 3. If you go a full 12 months, make sure to get some reasonable vacation expectations negotiated into the deal, even if informal.

  • Reply Juhli |

    I have to second that you need to be careful about an unofficial title change. Anyone reference checking will be told the title that is in the HR system.

  • Reply Jenna |

    As stated by basically everyone else here, I’m very concerned that your boss “doesn’t care what you call yourself”. If she actually used that phrase, I’d be very concerned. An official title change is what you asked for and it’s not what you got, but you can certainly bring that back up in the future to get it on the books.

    In the meantime, I think it’s great to make yourself invaluable, pick up the extra work over the summer, and establish yourself as a valuable asset to your boss, your department, and the online program. You haven’t been at the school very long, so a significant raise (outside of the additional 3 months work) was unlikely, but you’ve established it as an expectation – that’s great. As another commenter said, get to know the schedule of things and bring it back up at an appropriate time, which apparently is in 1 year. I would not ask for a raise again before that time unless there is something *significant* that happens.

So, what do you think ?