aculty pay highlighted in annual speech

Patrick Hayes

University President Mark Yudof highlighted the University’s accomplishments and looked toward future challenges Thursday during his annual State of the University address to faculty, staff and students.
Speaking to more than 300 people, Yudof focused on the success of the Summit on Minnesota’s Economy and the accomplishments of University faculty members and researchers.
“The University convened the summit in the best tradition of the land-grant institution, stirring the pot and bringing people together to look at the challenges facing our economy,” Yudof said.
Graduate School Dean Christine Maziar drew praise from Yudof for a record increase in research proposals and sponsored awards. University research monies surpassed the billion dollar mark for the fist time at $1.18 billion this last year.
Praising the achievements of five interdisciplinary academic initiatives presented to the state Legislature in 1998, Yudof said the initiatives added more than 100 new faculty positions in molecular and cellular biology, digital technology, design, new media and agriculture.
Yudof also addressed areas in need of improvement, including the need for competitive faculty compensation and enhancement of the undergraduate experience — areas in which the University faces considerable challenges this year.
The need for competitive faculty compensation is great, Yudof explained, to retain and recruit top faculty to the University.
“Our faculty is doing remarkably well in attracting research funding, but we can’t expect our success to continue forever if our faculty salaries remain near the bottom of America’s top research universities,” he said.
The University ranks 26th among the nation’s top 30 research institutions.
As part of Yudof’s $32.2 million four-year plan — to be presented to the state Legislature during the next session as part of a $228.9 million biennial budget proposal — the University annual faculty salary average will rise from $79,810 to $102,765, the projected median level of the top 30 research universities, by 2005. The proposal also includes $50.7 million for inflationary adjustment.
In his speech, Yudof also stressed the need to provide minimum annual compensation for University staff. The budget proposal includes $1.7 million to bring all employee wages up to $12.00 per hour.
“I personally find it embarrassing to say we have full-time employees making $10.00 an hour,” he said.
The University’s undergraduate experience also topped Yudof’s priority list.
“We have made a good deal of progress in reducing the scale of the (University) and moving to a more humane, more service-oriented, less impersonal experience for Minnesota’s daughters and sons,” he said.
Satisfaction rates rose among undergraduate students, including students of color, according to a recent study, Yudof said.
“That’s a good indication that we are improving the undergraduate experience for all our students.”
To continue enriching the undergraduate experience, he said, an additional $15 million in the budget proposal will add more seminars, advisors, and research opportunities.
The University’s greatest challenge this year is getting legislative approval of the budget proposal, Yudof said. To succeed, faculty members, students and staff must be involved in the process, he added.
“You’re voters too, and I think you can make yourselves felt,” Yudof said.

Patrick Hayes covers administration and welcomes comments at [email protected]