Senate ponders distribution of raise monies and possible increase in health care costs
ATHENS, Ohio (March 13, 2007) -- President Roderick McDavis last night urged Faculty Senate to avoid an "us versus them" mentality in the face of challenges, especially those related to the university's budget situation. McDavis and Provost Kathy Krendl, who gave an update on the work of the Budget Planning Council, were met by senators' concerns about issues ranging from administrator salaries to an increase in the cost of health care.
"If we step back from our personal situations, we start to see that we all work for Ohio University," McDavis said, explaining he advocates a "we and us" mentality on campus. "If we work together to recognize where we disagree, but search for where we agree, we can serve as role models for others in our community."
Highlights of the reports and resolutions brought forward last night:
- William Roosenburg, representing the Professional Relations Committee, presented resolutions for second reading that would update the sexual harassment policy and grievance language in the Faculty Handbook. Senate tabled the resolutions.
- David Ingram, chair of the Educational Policy and Student Affairs Committee, introduced for second reading and vote a resolution, which passed, that requires faculty members to list desired learning outcomes and objectives on syllabi. Ingram also asked for minutes to reflect an Enrollment Management Advisory Committee request that it be informed when any university unit is planning a change that would substantially affect enrollment.
- Annette Graham, chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee, brought for second reading and vote a resolution on faculty workload. The resolution passed.
- For the Finance and Facilities Committee, see full story.
Reminder: Full Faculty Senate minutes and resolutions are available at www.ohio.edu/facultysenate.
"I, for one, am not perfect," McDavis added. He has completed his 54th departmental visit of the year and has visited three campuses, and he says he wants to continue to work with Faculty Senate and others on campus.
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, Gov. Ted Strickland will release information on the state budget, giving the university a clearer picture of its financial shortfall for fiscal year 2008. In her update on the BPC -- the group of faculty, students and staff who are meeting weekly to balance the university's budget -- Krendl said the most likely budget scenario poses an $8 million targeted gap. As it works on that model, BPC will evaluate previous assumptions, such as the general raise pool and health-care cost sharing.
Faculty Senate Chair and BPC member Phyllis Bernt encouraged everyone to visit the BPC's Web page to look at its minutes and keep up with the group's progress at www.finance.ohiou.edu/budget/.
Krendl announced that despite the tight fiscal situation, the group has voted to increase faculty compensation over the next five years to the next quartile compared with peer institutions. Although the BPC did not arrive at the decision easily, it resolved to put $1.2 million from the Vision OHIO realignment pool toward a merit-based salary raise pool of approximately 2 percent next year. This would apply above and beyond the general raise pool. The raises from the realignment pool would range from 1.5 percent to 7 percent, based on five-year evaluations and recommendations to deans about faculty work.
"I think this represents a profound trust in faculty helping our students to succeed," Krendl said. "It also says academic quality is our highest priority."
Faculty senators, however, raised concerns that the salary increases would not cover cost of living and that an increase in health-care costs could offset the raises. The Finance and Facilities Committee introduced two new resolutions for first reading related to these issues. One asks for changes to the faculty compensation approach, including that merit raises be based on long-term productivity rather than five-years (because some academic areas review faculty work in longer increments than five years). The other stipulates that nonunion employees pay the same percentage of total health-care costs that they have in recent years (16 percent).
"We don't want to give money and then take it away in health-care benefits," Finance and Facilities Committee chair Joe McLaughlin said, though he admitted having higher salaries could help with recruitment. Higher salaries can be more effective than generous benefits in recruiting new faculty.
Other faculty concerns touched on low faculty- and student morale and a need for authentic two-way communication between administrators and the campus community.
The Finance and Facilities Committee also introduced a resolution to roll back administrator salaries. McLaughlin presented a chart comparing several deans' salaries, which had increased more than those of the faculty salaries he presented.
"This resolution is not about 'us versus them,'" McLaughlin said. "We really question the judgment of doing raises like this at a time when the university is experiencing the kind of budget situation it is in," adding that the salary disparity creates a "status gap" between faculty and administration.
Krendl explained that a snapshot of simple comparisons doesn't tell the whole story, explaining such factors as the need to meet market rates for salaries and timing of equity adjustments that faculty and administrators have received.
Several senators were in favor of calling for a hold on high-level administrator salaries until those of faculty are raised.
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Written by Elizabeth Boyle
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