U budgets for academic improvements

The University also set aside $15 million for merit-based faculty and staff pay raises for next year’s budget.

Anne Millerbernd

Amid millions of dollars in cuts to its administrative spending, the University of Minnesota has budgeted more than $23 million for academic improvements.

The University will spread money — garnered from increased state funds, graduate, professional and nonresident tuition and elsewhere — across its colleges and campuses to pay some faculty more competitively, add faculty members and make up for lost tuition revenue.

The largest appropriation in the budget’s academic initiatives section will go toward instructional and student services costs in the Law School and on the University’s Duluth campus, according to Board of Regents documents.

The documents said $2.2 million will go toward the Law School and nearly $3 million will go toward the Duluth campus to make up for a lack of tuition revenue.

The Carlson School of Management, the College of Pharmacy and the Morris campus were given $1.1 million total to pay their faculty more competitively.

According to a survey from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the average professor in a pharmacy college makes about $155,000 a year. But the University’s College of Pharmacy spokesperson Amy Leslie said its faculty members earn significantly less than those at pharmacy colleges across the country, according to the version of the survey the college received this year.

“Our faculty are very high-performing, very in-demand faculty educators and researchers,” she said. “Our goal with requesting this money to adjust faculty salaries is to basically maintain our high-performing [and] outstanding faculty.”

Bart Finzel, vice chancellor for academic affairs and dean at the University’s Morris campus, estimated that the school received less than $250,000 to boost its faculty’s salaries and make them more competitive.

“It certainly does help us, and so we’re very pleased with the consideration,” Finzel said.

Still, he said Morris’ salaries will be lower than those of peer institutions.

The University also gave about $450,000 to the College of Liberal Arts for faculty hires in the geography and social sciences departments, CLA spokeswoman Kelly O’Brien said. Those new faculty members won’t be hired until the college’s new dean, John Coleman, starts in late July, she said.

The School of Nursing, the College of Biological Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Crookston campus were included with CLA in the $1.3 million budgeted for targeted faculty hires.

Nursing School Dean Connie Delaney said in an email statement that the money will help the school hire enough faculty and staff members to support the growing Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

The school received a $10 million donation in the fall from the Bentson Foundation, which it dedicated to scholarships for more students. The University’s money will go toward faculty and staff hires to support the 500 new students the nursing school expects over the next 10 years.

Another $3.6 million will be allocated to schools that haven’t been earning as much tuition money as expected, according to the docket.

The College of Education and Human Development has seen a drop in demand, along with the Carlson School’s part-time Master of Business Administration program and online registration in the pharmacy school, the docket said.

An additional $550,000 will go toward classroom improvements and oversight related to the University’s clinical trials.

The University also budgeted $15 million for merit-based bumps in faculty and staff pay, which increases some faculty and staff salaries by an average of 2.5 percent.

How that money is distributed is left up to colleges, which typically award their employees based on performance, said Patti Dion, director in the Office of Human Resources. The raise happens most years and lands around 2 or 3 percent each time, she said.