Salary increases may quell 'brain drain'
Tuesday October 2, 2001
Faculty senate votes to increase faculty salaries by at least 5 percent
Across-the-board salary increases for UA employees, which are scheduled to take effect in April, may designate more money for faculty than an earlier plan allowed.
Members of the faculty senate voted 23 to 14 at yesterday's meeting that increases for faculty should guarantee 5 percent, rather than the $1,500 previously approved.
The salary increase - approved by the state Legislature last spring - will allot more money for faculty, staff and administrators over the next two years, but a debate remains about how the increases will be distributed.
The original plan, presented by the University Compensation Advisory Team yesterday, guaranteed $1,500 increases to all staff - including faculty - and said more could be earned through merit increases.
Some senators argued that the language of the Legislature's plan clearly states all staff receive a 5 percent increase in their salary. Many faculty said the increase is a step toward alleviating "brain drain" - the loss of instructors to higher-paying institutions.
The change would not call for more money to be used on raises, but it would call for a re-allocation of funds - more used on the across-the-board increase and less on the merit increases.
Professor of English Peter Medine, who called for the change in the provision, said many think of the brain drain epidemic as instantaneous, but the problem is one that builds over time due to consistently low salaries.
Medine said the average salary for faculty is around $60,000. A guaranteed increase of $1,500 would be only 2.5 percent of that average.
"I have been here since 1969," Medine said. "We need an increase, and this is one small step in doing that."
Marlys Witte, a professor of surgery, agreed with Medine. She said many faculty members do not have confidence in the merit process.
UA President Peter Likins said salaries need to be increased for faculty, but that the Legislature does not clearly identify how the money should be distributed.
He said he is concerned with correcting inadequacies in salaries between male and female employees, particularly in the health sciences department, and he believes merit increases could help to balance those inadequacies.
The senate's resolution will be sent back to UCAT, which will evaluate the changes. Eventually they will be passed on to Likins for approval.
"I would hope Peter Likins would take the will of the senate very seriously," Medine said. "I would be surprised if he didn't."
"I think by and large (brain drain) has been ongoing," he added. "And its creation has been a mismanagement of funds."
The changes in the salary increases would only affect increases for faculty, not for other staff, Medine said.