Butler University’s Board of Trustees has decided to table the topic of equity raises once again.
The Trustees decided to withhold equity raises until a later date due to other concerns.
President Jim Danko recommended as much last fall.
While business concerns play a vital and practical role in the university, Butler must prioritize moral concerns first.
Equity raises are short-hand for a broad number of pay adjustments to eliminate discrimination.
These raises sometimes refer to gender equality.
If a male professor has a higher salary than a female of the same degree and experience level, the raises attempt to remove that difference.
At Butler, most tenured faculty members are men.
That gap has shrunk with the most recent announcement from the Board of Trustees.
Hopefully progress will continue, but the university needs to take more direct action.
The university maintains that equality is important but that other concerns demand immediate fixes.
In today’s world, even academic institutions cannot ignore the costs and concerns of business.
Carefully planned projects could solve the equity problem with future profits.
The university faces a number of different concerns at this point, all of which carry price tags.
Butler continues to grow and must continually adjust its focus between professional and academic focuses.
One only needs to glance at the rest of this paper to see a variety of ways to spend the university’s money.
Yet this issue stands out as one defined not by practicality but principle.
I’m certain that gender and other forms of equality are important to the administration.
However, this issue cannot be postponed indefinitely.
And to treat Butler purely as a business will not reward the university monetarily or otherwise.
The market demands constant expansion, and potential success or failure colors every investment or project. No matter how careful.
This uncertainty is the nature of the economy and perhaps explains why the endowment cannot continue to support Butler in its current expansion.
So to wait for some future situation where the university has comfortable stores of cash to spend on equity raises is to wait for a day that will never come.
Butler presents itself as a liberal arts university with strong values that help prepare students not just for the business world but for lives of purpose.
For many students, emphasizing liberal arts means taking a stand for principles beyond mere profits—enriching lives through education, understanding other cultures and making responsible and sustainable choices.
If Butler wishes to present itself as a true liberal arts institution, it should strongly consider sacrificing something other than equity raises.
In an age where every institution seems to focus on profitability, Butler can and should stand out by making the principled decision.