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UA faculty retention stymied by budget cuts

By Jeffrey Javier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
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Years of state budget cuts have pushed UA faculty salaries to the middle of the road in comparison with other Pac-10 schools, making retention and recruitment difficult, officials said.

One of the major reasons for low salaries at the UA is the loss of state appropriated dollars for faculty retention and salaries, said Juan Garcia, vice provost for academic affairs.

As the salaries decrease, the faculty retention and education at the university also dwindles, Garcia said.

"As we lose more faculty, the education provided erodes and students are cheated out of an excellent education," Garcia said.

While the state allocated $1,000 for full-time employees at all state universities for 2005, the Legislature shelled out no money for 2003-2004, said Gale Tebeau, Arizona Board of Regents assistant executive director for financial affairs.

"There has been a decline since the 1990s where the state did not increase salaries because of other state priorities," Garcia said. "Faculty salaries are falling behind our peers and competitors."

Out of all the Pacific 10 Conference schools, the UA's average salary for all instructional faculty on a nine-month contract is $78,796, compared to Arizona State University, which is at $76,737 and the University of California, Berkeley, at $100,279 for the 2004-2005 academic year.

The UA is ranked fifth when it comes to Pac-10 salaries, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Education.

Among the lowest paid salaries in the Pac-10 are Oregon State University and Washington State University, which pay $60,506 and $64,195, respectively.

Lower salaries have a huge impact on faculty retention, especially in the College of Fine Arts, said Maurice J. Sevigny, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

"Faculty salaries affects recruiting greatly, we are still recruiting at $40,000 for professors," Sevigny said.

The College of Fine Arts is one of the lowest salary-paying colleges at the UA along with the Colleges of Humanities and Education, which pay an average salary of about $45,000 as of the 2002-2003 academic year, according to the Association of American Universities Data Exchange.

College of Fine Arts faculty members are working other jobs in addition to teaching at the UA to earn extra cash, Sevigny said.

"Most faculty here have other jobs performing at symphonies, performing on the road and selling paintings to complement working here," Sevigny said. "But I don't think any of them are moonlighting as pizza delivery people."

Retaining faculty members who have been at the university for years can also be difficult as new instructors are hired because some UA departments and colleges offer higher salaries to the newcomers.

"When we hire someone new for the history department we pay that person $10,000 more than someone who has been here for 10 years," said Ed Donnerstein, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Because of real-world markets, the UA is unable to keep up and the salaries for older faculty fall behind, while new hired faculty get the current market rate, Donnerstein said.

"We offer them what our competitors are offering them," Donnerstein said. "That becomes a problem because there aren't any raises to compensate for the current market rate, and then we have retention problems."

Salaries are directly related to what the market pays for those who work in specific areas. For example, an engineering professor at the UA would be paid the same amount as an engineer working out in the field, Garcia said.

Salaries at the UA have been lower than the market value, and to match it the university would have to raise salaries by 15.8 percent, according to the Annual Personnel Report from the board of regents.

"There just aren't enough resources. We lack in resources, and that's why we can't keep salaries at market prices," said Richard J. Roberts, assistant vice president and budget director at the UA.

The UA was grateful to receive a 1.7 percent increase this year, Roberts said, because state dollars continue to decrease.

The UA requested $15 million from the state for 2006 to focus on faculty retention and attracting new professors.

"Only state allocated dollars can be used for across-the-board raises, but lately we have not seen any," Donnerstein said.

Making up for the loss

The state's inability to increase funds for competitive salaries has taken a toll on the attitude of faculty, Garcia said.

"It really affects morale because they feel their contributions aren't appreciated, but faculty stay because they believe in what they do here at the university," Garcia said.

To fill in part of the state funding gaps, the UA is using decision packages that allow Arizona universities to request targeted money from the Legislature to go to specific colleges to increase salaries.

But not every college receives the same amount because the state determines where the money goes and how much.

In 2006 salaries will increase by 1.7 percent to offset the increase in the Arizona state retirement rate, Tebeau said.

"Most of the colleges on campus stand to gain a little bit of the money, but that money is very targeted and it doesn't reach everyone," said Wanda Howell, Faculty Senate chairwoman.

To save money, the university also hires adjunct professors who don't receive health insurance benefits like full-time professors. In doing so, the state appropriated money doesn't go toward paying newly hired professors salary and benefits.

Adjunct professors are mostly used to teach large classes or for specialized courses where an adjunct professor may be able to instruct better than a professor because they hold a job in the field of study they are teaching, Garcia said.

The department of journalism uses 21 adjuncts out of 31 faculty in its department, said Paul Johnson, senior academic adviser for the department.

"All adjuncts are experts in their subject areas except for teaching," Johnson said. "But we have a full-time faculty mentor that specializes in academics and helps adjuncts with their questions."

While there are positives to hiring adjunct professors, Johnson said, committee work like curriculum, internships and scholarships decisions, are left for the full-time faculty members.

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