University faculty enjoy jobs, but want better pay

Faculty surveyed put better pay among the top reasons to leave the University.

Elizabeth Cook

Faculty and staff like working at the University – they just wish they made more money.

The Pulse Survey, which was administered in March, found 68 percent of faculty would stick with their University careers if they could do it over again.

The Carlson School of Management oversees the survey, conducted every other year to measure employee satisfaction at the University to make working more enjoyable. This year, 575 faculty and 3,853 staff responded either electronically or on paper.

Potential reasons for faculty turnover
Earning a higher salary is the most agreed upon motivation for leaving the University in a recent survey of University faculty members.

1. Other
2. Earning a higher salary
3. Joining a unit where one is more appreciated
4. Achieving a better work life balance
5. Obtaining a position of higher rank, responsibilty or visibility

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Faculty cited being offered a higher salary elsewhere among the top reasons to leave the University.

Geoffrey Sirc, chairman of the University Senate’s Faculty Affairs Committee and an English professor, said he’s pleased the University is giving surveys, but wishes the sample size was larger.

The survey was sent out to 2,841 faculty members, but many didn’t have time to respond with so much surveying going on at the University, he said.

Sirc has been working at the University since 1985 and said he’s very happy with his employment here, but there are things he’d like to see change.

“We do have great compensation,” he said. “Paying (salaries), maybe not so great.”

Sirc said it’s disappointing that only 65 percent of faculty that responded would recommend employment at the University to a friend.

Theresa Glomb, Carlson human relations and industrial relations professor, said salary was a top complaint among faculty.

“They’re satisfied with the benefits, but the pay and the pay raises are one area of dissatisfaction,” she said.

Glomb said employees often don’t figure their benefits in with their salaries. They might be making $50,000 a year, but their benefits – like health insurance – are worth another $25,000: the University is really paying them $75,000 a year, he said.

One way to fix this misconception would be to issue a statement showing total compensation broken down into salary and how much is spent on benefits, Glomb said.

This isn’t a solution to pay more, she said, but it’s an idea.

If the Legislature passes President Bob Bruininks’ biennial budget request, $88.3 million will go toward faculty and staff salary and compensation increases.

Seventy-five percent of faculty reported being satisfied with their jobs. Glomb said another high level of satisfaction was with employees’ coworkers.

Laura Kohn, a kinesiology senior, said many professors are enthused in classrooms and even give out their cell phone numbers for questions students might have outside of class.

Not all professors are like this, she said, but the majority seemed to be.

“It’s either hit or miss,” she said. “If it’s not that, then they don’t want to be here.”

The Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs also reviewed the results of the survey last week and found they were similar to the 2004 survey.

According to the committee’s minutes, Timothy Wiedmann, a professor in the College of Pharmacy, said if the University is going to do surveys to find out how employees are thinking, responses to those attitudes need to take place or faculty will not take surveys in the future.

As of right now, the University does not have clear plans to help faculty with some of their dissatisfaction, Glomb said.

“I think that we’re still kind of early in the results dissemination and the discussion around that,” she said.

Mechanical engineering junior Sara Holst said she thinks most of her professors enjoy their jobs, except sometimes the older ones seem less motivated.

“They don’t want to be here anymore,” she said.