Report: U wages similar to other public universities’

Patricia Drey

Salaries and benefits for University faculty and staff are similar to comparable public schools, according to a report released Tuesday.

But wage freezes, which began this semester, have some faculty concerned about the University’s ability to attract qualified professors.

Legislative auditors presented the report on University compensation to the Minnesota Senate.

Average faculty compensation ranges from approximately 1 percent below to 6 percent above that of similar public universities, the report states.

“I guess the results are somewhat reassuring,” said Jo Vos, who works in the Office of the Legislative Auditor. “Compensation at the University seems to reflect what’s going on in the marketplace.”

Vos said University administrators were not overly concerned about faculty turnover, and compensation is only one benefit among many for employees.

Support for research, quality co-workers and research facilities also provide incentives for faculty to work at the University, Vos said.

While other incentives might help retain faculty, geography professor Judith Martin said budget constraints will make it difficult to attract new members.

“The ability to replicate the loyalty to the University that you see here might be greatly lessened,” she said.

The report is based on compensation rates from the 2002-03 school year, numbers that might paint an overly rosy picture of University pay, law professor Fred Morrison said.

Salary freezes have left University faculty members in a different position now than they were in one year ago, Morrison said, and he is concerned about the University’s ability to recruit high-quality faculty in the future.

Morrison said he recently had to make 12 offers to fill two faculty positions. A couple years ago, he would have made three or four offers to fill the spots, he said.

Faculty members will receive a salary increase this coming year, University Vice President for Human Resources Carol Carrier said.

Wage freezes for University faculty members were necessary in light of the $185 million budget cut from the state, said Sen. Lawrence Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis.

When universities across the country were receiving budget cuts, Pogemiller said Minnesota should have invested in the University so it could “cherry pick” qualified faculty from elsewhere.

Pogemiller said it seemed like the University was penalized for raising funds on its own when it should have been rewarded with more funding for doing so.

Committee member Sen. Cal Larson, R-Fergus Falls, agreed that it would be ideal to reward the University with more money when it raises private funds.

Larson also said one key to recruiting quality faculty is to encourage young students with potential to get higher degrees and enter the academic world.