The Pros and Cons of Merit Pay

The principle that college faculty members should earn more because of their merit, rather than simply because of their seniority, has a long history in higher education. In fact, the entire system of academic promotions can be described as a process for reviewing and rewarding merit. Moreover, many colleges and universities already have a system in which an individual or a committee examines the annual performance of each professor and assigns a salary increase based on that review. Yet, despite this long tradition, many legislatures and governing boards propose that systems of merit pay be implemented where they do not exist and strengthened where they are already in place. Both advocates for and opponents to strong merit-pay systems at colleges and universities have many arguments in their favor, but partisans of one position are sometimes unaware of the assumptions made by the other side. So, what exactly are the pros and cons of professorial merit pay?

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