Letter to the Editor: Investigative reporting

I applaud The Chart for its recent willingness to do investigative reporting.  Last week’s “Bonus Raises Concerns” certainly touched on sensitive issues. I’m pleased that the problems reported reached a public forum, since many faculty members had heard and discussed parts of the story. A fuller disclosure was needed.  

Dr. Locher is a valued member of this community, an appealing person, and by all accounts an excellent instructor. It is indeed important to know that Dr. Locher was not being deceptive, and that the unwarranted salary he now receives was not obtained through any manipulation on his part. I do say “unwarranted,” however. Even if it is true that many faculty members receive lower pay than they “deserve,” that’s beside the point. There is a system in place, imperfect or not. Dr. Locher’s salary has for years now been received irrespective of this system. It is also important that students understand Dr. Locher did not receive a “bonus.” Southern used to have a system for allotting bonus (or “merit”) pay — in other words, for granting monetary recognition of particularly worthy contributions made by faculty members. That is not the case here.

I strongly disagree with the implication that the “compromise” reached between Dr. Locher and the administration was a fair one. When a cashier accidentally hands back too much change, we don’t negotiate a compromise; we give back the money. That is the right thing to do. At the very least, we don’t expect to be charged less for the items we bought at each subsequent visit to the store (We’re not talking about just one erroneous contract; we’re not talking about $5,000 in excess of the proper salary, but about $5,000 multiplied by each subsequent year Dr. Locher receives a contract at the associate level). While I certainly view anonymous nasty phone calls as entirely unethical and objectionable, I would use the same terms to describe the handling of this contract mistake. Perhaps with further consideration of the matter, both the administration and Dr. Locher himself will reconsider their resolution of the problem.

Dr. Joy Dworkin

Associate Professor of English