UVA Report Finds No Pay Inequity for Black, Hispanic Profs

Adjusted salary differentials for tenure/tenure track faculty.

by James A. Bacon

The Racial Equity Task Force, a 2020 document that transformed governance at the University of Virginia, listed 12 top priorities for addressing the legacy of historical racism. One was to address “serious challenges to racial equity in staff hiring, wages, retention, promotion, and procurement” by auditing where policies and procedures might be “reinforcing entrenched inequities.”

The report cited no actual evidence of disparities in pay, and the authors did not assert that they existed. In a report that lambasted UVA as “an inaccessible, rich, ‘white’ institution,” pay inequities were just assumed to occur and needed to be documented.

Well, last year the Ryan administration hired the DCI Consulting Group to evaluate “pay equity” for UVA faculty based on gender and race. The results, based on 2022 compensation, were made available to UVA January 5 and, sure enough, pay inequities were found…. for non-tenured Asian-American faculty.

Remarkably, adjusted for their level in the academic hierarchy, seniority and other variables affecting compensation, Black professors who are tenured or on the tenure track were f0und to earn 3% more than their peers, Hispanic professors 3.4% more, and Whites 1.6% less — although DCI did not deem the differences to be “statistically significant.”

For Academic General Faculty (AGF), Blacks earned 3.4% more than their peers after adjustments, although, again, the difference was not considered statistically significant. While tenured Asians fared well, their AGF peers were found to make 4.3% less, a disparity that was considered statistically significant.

Adjusted salary differentials for academic general faculty (non-tenure track).

DCI based its analysis on 1,702 faculty, excluding deans and a handful of special cases.

Rather than publish raw pay averages, the consultants acknowledged that salaries in an academic institution are affected by many factors other than race and gender. The pay gap between tenure/tenure track professors and academic general faculty is so large that DCI conducted separate analyses for the two groups. The consultants ran a series of regression analyses that adjusted for department, academic rank, academic track type (teaching, research, practice, lecturer/instructor), years spent in the current rank, and other factors.

The analysis did not adjust for scholarly reputation, teaching evaluations, research funding, publications or other measures of performance which might inform annual merit increases. Direct measures of productivity, DCI said, were not readily available.

Here is DCI’s main conclusion:

The regression analyses based on the data provided identified two salary disparities in the full model… that warrant further investigation by the University, namely the statistically significant disparities of:

  • -6.9% to the disadvantage of Asian Academic General Faculty,
  • +2.0% to the advantage of Asian Tenured or Tenure Track Faculty.

A similar study on disparities in staff pay is underway but not yet complete.

In late March Provost Ian Baucom wrote faculty members informing them of the results and providing a brief explanation of the methodology. He said that his office is working with leadership of schools where the Asian disparities were evident, adding that university deans had received school-level results for their own analysis.

Other than noting that DCI had found no disparities related to gender — in itself a finding that runs counter to the intersectional-oppression narrative — Baucom offered no commentary.

Really? Isn’t this good news? Shouldn’t it be celebrated?

The concern about racial “equity” has been the driving force of policy at UVA during the Ryan administration. Ever since the Board of Visitors adopted the recommendations of the Racial Equity Task Force, the university has been steering tens of millions of dollars to redress inequity that is alleged to persist today. Wouldn’t it be reassuring to the University community to know that pay gaps for Blacks and Hispanics do not exist?

The DCI report was based on 2022 salary data, only two years after the Racial Equity Task Force (RETF) report was published. It is plausible to suggest that (1) no pay inequities existed at the time the RETF report came out; (2) treating all racial groups fairly has been a preoccupation of University leadership for many years, long before President Jim Ryan convened the task force; and (3) indeed, if any pay disparities exist, they slightly favor Blacks and Hispanics.

Let me stress that I’m not complaining about unfair treatment toward Whites and Asians. Any disparities, if they exist, are small, within the margin of error, and probably not meaningful. My point is to acknowledge the positive message here. The supposed institutional racism of which UVA is so often declared to be guilty does not apply to the pay structure.

Can’t we just come out and say that? Or does acknowledging the obvious undermine the narrative of intersectional oppression that undergirds almost everything that the Ryan administration does?

James A. Bacon is executive director of The Jefferson Council. This column has been republished here with permission from the Jefferson Council blog.