Initiatives allow pay increases

Erin Ghere

Despite a $96 million disappointment in what University officials wanted and what they got from the Legislature, administrators are planning to hand out 3 percent pay raises to faculty and staff members after July 1, 2000.
When the 1999 legislative session ended May 17, the University was left with $103 million of the $198 million officials had requested in their biennial capital funding bid. On odd years, the University gets money for maintenance tasks, like compensation and building upkeep, while on even years, new building projects are funded.
This year, the largest chunk of funding — $69 million, or 70 percent of the budget — went toward faculty and staff compensation. That was only $1 million less than what Gov. Jesse Ventura recommended, but $25 million short of what Yudof requested.
Ventura is expected to sign the higher education bill, which includes funding for all Minnesota higher education institutions, early this week.
One of the biggest reasons the Legislature could not provide the University with as much as University officials had hoped was because of the pressure for large tax cuts, said Richard Pfutzenreuter, the University’s chief financial adviser.
“They saw our needs but couldn’t provide as much as they wanted,” he said.
University officials have yet to decide which portions of the budget proposal will need to be cut to account for the lack of funding.
“We will have to make some hard, critical choices,” said Robert Bruininks, University vice president and provost. “We can’t fund everything we need to fund, but we can move forward.”
However, University officials were pleased that legislators placed a high priority on University teaching, Bruininks said.
Additional funding was added to the salary pot even in the closing minutes of the higher education conference committee last week.
Yudof expects the increased compensation to promote interdisciplinary research projects, improvement of undergraduate education and initiatives to help programs rise in national rankings.
The University’s total five-tier allocation takes into consideration faculty pay as well as undergraduate experiences, facility repairs, and University extension and community programs. Funding for Yudof’s fifth initiative is included in the health and human services bill through an endowment created with tobacco settlement funds. This will give the University’s Academic Health Center about $16 million over the next two years.