Faculty awaits raise determination

by Robin Huiras

Faculty members will be closer to finding out this weekend how much they stand to gain from the state’s largest-ever supplemental appropriation to the University.
Increasing faculty and staff salaries relative to market competition is the first initiative and main goal of the President’s Recommended Operating Budget Plan for 1998-1999. The plan goes before the University Board of Regents today for reveiw.
“Faculty salary increases have been a high priority for faculty for a couple of years,” said Victor Bloomfield, chairman of the Faculty Consultative Committee. “Clearly, one of the most important things is to attract and retain faculty.”
About $13 million of the $35.5 million supplemental bill passed April 10 is proposed under the plan as recurring funds to be directed toward academic and support units for compensation costs of faculty and staff members.
Of the remaining $22.5 million in the operating budget, $12.2 million in nonrecurring funds will be allocated to new faculty setup and classroom improvements under the plan. The rest, $10.3 million in recurring funds, will be directed toward five academic initiatives.
Carol Carrier, acting vice president of University Human Resources, said faculty and staff compensation increases are merit-based under the budget plan.
“Salary increases will be given out depending on individual performance,” she said.
Depending on faculty status, salary increases will range between $1,500 and $2,000. Because the money is recurring, the increases are permanent, Carrier said.
University administrators would allocate, under the plan, a pool of funds equivalent to a 6 percent increase to the dean of each college at the University. The dean would then make judgments about which faculty members are entitled to increases, Carrier added.
In addition to the 6 percent allotment from administration, tuition increases, lucrative research projects and funding from the Incentives for Managed Growth program should be able to produce a net salary increase of about 8 percent, Bloomfield said.
For the past several years the University has gone through a period when faculty salaries have consistently lagged behind the national average. Even with a proposed salary increase of 8 percent, full-time University professors’ mean salaries would remain behind 20 percent of other universities nationwide, Bloomfield added.
On average, University assistant professors earn $48,000, associate professors earn $57,500, and full-time faculty members make $81,000.
The hiring of about 50 new faculty members is suggested under the budget plan to lead five new programs designed to enhance the reputation of the University. The program would entail the use of $10.3 million of the $22.5 million recurring money.
“The program initiatives are in areas where there is tremendous growth in technology tied to the University and economic life in Minnesota,” said Robert Bruininks, executive vice president and provost.
The academic initiatives deal with programs already existing at the University. Money to give researchers in the programs more resources and funding will change and improve the programs substantially, Bruininks said.
The five initiatives involve: molecular and cell biology, digital technology, new media, design and agriculture research and outreach.
Money allotted to the programs fits the University’s priority of attracting exceptional faculty from around the world to conduct cutting-edge research, said University President Mark Yudof said.
Active recruitment of both national and international faculty members has already begun. The University is looking to hire slightly more faculty members in the molecular and cell biology and digital technology incentives, Bruininks said.
The remaining $12.2 million in nonrecurring funds of the $22.5 million would be bisected. New faculty members gained from the academic incentives program will receive an undetermined amount allowing for initial start-up and setup.
A classroom improvement plan would receive the remainder. Modest cosmetic fixes to classrooms include recarpeting, painting, installing white and blackboards, and needed technology in various campus buildings.
Pending board approval of his recommendation, Yudof said University administrators are scheduled to meet with the deans of every department this summer to learn of their needs and then divide and distribute the $22.5 million accordingly.
The program initiatives, which begin July 1, will reach completion in two to three years, Bruininks said.