UW System budget cuts didn’t stop pay increases
This is the third in a series of stories focusing on the effects of budget cuts to the university.
Keeping up morale among staff and faculty is important, especially after the elimination of 32 positions and the uncertainty of future pay increases as a result of budget cuts to UW-Eau Claire.
“Obviously people are doing hard work and we would like that to be recognized,” Vice Chancellor Andy Soll said. “If we’re not able to do that, it will impact morale.”
In January, faculty and academic staff received an average pay increase of 2.1 percent as part of the budget pay plan from last fiscal year. The next pay plan has not been scheduled.
There are several steps before any pay plan is recommended. The first hurdle is the Board of Regent’s October meeting, when it will discuss future salary increases, Soll said.
Soll said he is hoping for a pay plan to give increases in January, but added that he doesn’t know if it will happen.
Eau Claire has been left with challenges in the aftermath of the state’s budget cuts to the UW System. The buying power of new faculty and retention of current faculty have been affected, Soll said.
There have been instances of professors leaving the university for higher salaries, he said, but other factors also have been involved.
The university continues to provide professional development opportunities as an incentive for current faculty to remain here. Funding for research and attending conferences are two of the opportunities available for faculty.
“We want to help faculty be he best they can be,” Soll said.
That includes looking for opportunities to support them and recognize their achievements, he said.
As the recruiting season approaches in late fall, low salary raises in the past and the uncertainty of future raises will not be helpful in attracting applicants, Soll said.
Administrators are confident, however, that they will find qualified applicants, especially since many other states are facing budget deficits.
“I think we are going to be able to identify and find people to fill these positions,” Chancellor Donald Mash said.
Eau Claire is able to offer competitive compensation packages along with salaries. Mash listed health insurance, a retirement program and affordable housing as a few of the fringe benefits.
“We do a very good job of putting together positive packages of incentives,” he said.
Soll agreed, saying candidates shouldn’t just look at salary.
“If you look at the total compensation package, we feel we’re very competitive,” he said.
The university, however, cannot back away from efforts to offer competitive salaries, he said.
The Board of Regents is working on adjusting salary ranges for UW executives, which includes chancellors and provosts, to make them more competitive.
Mash and Provost Ron Satz, along with the rest of UW System executives, were not given pay increases when other UW System faculty were.
The board had proposed an increase in the pay range for executive positions last week but concerns from legislators put the decision on hold.
As part of the proposed increase, the minimum salary for the chancellor of UW-Milwaukee would have been increased by about $10,000.
Mash said the increase is needed in order to keep current executives and to recruit new ones.
“Salaries have got to continue to be competitive,” he said.
UW System president Katharine Lyall and board president Toby Marcovich said in a press release Tuesday that they will seek recommendations from national search consultants before making any changes to the current pay rates of UW System leaders.