UT colleges and departments have awarded pay increases to faculty and staff with the help of advanced budget planning despite the failure of two of the University’s major funding sources to keep pace with the costs of educating students.
Each college or department implemented merit increases for faculty and staff equal to 2 percent of salaries. Not all increases are permanent, with some faculty and staff only receiving one-time salary increases. The merit increases became effective Sept. 1.
Since 2008, the state has cut funds to higher education, and last spring, the UT System Board of Regents denied a tuition increase for UT-Austin in-state undergraduates. The University was still able to fund merit increases for faculty and staff because its five-year budgeting process allowed it to collect a reserve of funds for strategic university needs, UT vice president and chief financial officer Kevin Hegarty said.
“While we are in uncertain times this year, the central administration determined that the most pressing of strategic needs is to take actions that we believe will help retain our most precious resource — our faculty and staff,” he said.
Colleges and departments could have used the budget reserves differently if they had identified a more pressing need than merit increases, but most colleges allocated self-generated reserves to faculty and staff raises, Hegarty said.
The University implemented merit increases last year, allocated one-time bonuses in 2010 and froze salaries in 2009. The University last established permanent pay increases in 2008.
Leslie Vaaler, chair of the Faculty Council’s Faculty Welfare Committee and senior mathematics lecturer, said funding cuts have pushed faculty to contribute more time to the University.
“While University faculty members may be generous with their time, they naturally want to be fairly compensated and appreciated,” she said.
Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly said the University depends on merit increases to retain high-quality staff and deliver quality services to students.
“You will not find a department or college unit that has not talked about increases for salary,” she said.
Most colleges gave recurring merit increases to faculty, but the College of Liberal Arts only implemented one-time increases for faculty, while the College of Communication adopted a mix of recurring and one-time increases.
As for the staff’s merit increases, the College of Communication, the Cockrell School of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and the UT-Austin Graduate School limited raises to one-time occasions.
The School of Undergraduate Studies approved a mix of recurring and one-time increases for staff, while the College of Education implemented one-time merit increases for critical staff.
Faculty Advisory Committee on Budgets chair Hillary Hart said the committee told UT President William Powers, Jr. it did not desire to raise faculty salaries on the back of staff cuts.
“Faculty understood how critical the staff are to our and the University’s success,” she said.
Staff Council chair Erika Frahm said Powers discussed recurring and one-time increases with Staff Council executive officers. The council recommended both types of increases in order to maximize the budgetary abilities of each department facing different levels of funding and budgetary hardship, she said.
“As the external job market improves, we are seeing high-performing staff find better opportunities elsewhere,” Frahm said.
Powers recommended merit-based pay increases for University employees as part of the University’s budget, which was approved by the regents during their August meeting.
“In this time of austerity, we are focusing on what matters most — student success and remaining competitive for talented faculty and staff,” Powers wrote in an Aug. 23 e-mail to the University.
“Our peer universities continue to try to raid talent at UT. These pay increases are small but strategic adjustments to protect that talent.”
Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: Faculty and staff get merit-based raise