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University of La Verne faculty will receive 2.5 percent raises for the 2008-2009 academic year as part of a salary pool increase of 3.49 percent by the Board of Trustees.
With dramatic increases in the cost of fuel and food, the overall cost of living increase is projected to be more than 4 percent.
Increasing faculty salaries at colleges and universities is a costly but necessary endeavor.
At the University of La Verne, however, which has a small endowment and depends on tuition for most of its revenue, granting raises is particularly challenging when enrollment numbers stay stagnant or decrease, which has been the case recently, administrators say.
Still the administration has and will continue to take steps to ensure that faculty are rewarded for their work and are being paid salaries close to those of their counterparts at similar universities.
“It’s an ongoing effort and a high priority of mine and the Board of Trustees,” said University President Stephen Morgan. “We’ve made progress of getting there but we haven’t arrived yet.”
“We are very close to the national averages and to those institutions we compare ourselves to,” Provost Alden Reimonenq said.
In fact in some disciplines this is true, though faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences on average earn less than their counterparts in the colleges of business and education, as well as many comparable colleges as well, according to comparison data.
This year’s proposed raise of close to 4 percent, which was supported by Reimonenq, went to the Board of Trustees Friday.
But the money just wasn’t in the budget this year, the administrators said.
Every year the Compensation Task Force, which is composed of faculty, administration and selected others, compiles data to compare salary figures with other schools.
They choose to look at specific schools and colleges average when making their comparisons. For example, the College of Business and Public Management at ULV compares other colleges with similar factors such as enrollment, faculty, department size.
Following careful analysis of all the numbers, the task force then determines if adjustments need to be made in areas that may be lacking compensation.
Calculating the raise is next, which is largely decided by how much money is left in the budget after other immediate financial obligations.
For 2008-2009, administrators are calling for a 5 percent cut to the overall budget for academic units.
Still, some faculty members who are involved in the salary process of reviewing various data are concerned about how the University of La Verne chooses to allocate funds.
They are also concerned about how the University determines faculty raises and adjustments and compare salaries here to those at other colleges and universities.
Professor of Sociology Ernie Thomson, a member of the Faculty Salary Committee – which is composed solely of faculty to advocate for faculty salary concerns – was able to determine that many of the salary numbers that should be used by the University are weighed CUPA data but recently adapted to the unweighed scale.
The result was numbers that seemed to be “better” but in fact they were not close to the averages at all. In other words, ULV’s salaries.
“The obvious thing is they are using data which makes them look better,” Thomson said. “They have been doing this in the past but this time we caught it,” Thomson added.
In addition several faculty members have been displeased for some time with the ways the University has gone to spending more money on projects they feel do not necessarily enhance a student’s experience.
Thomson believes that the University should be investing more in academics and less in development projects taking place on campus.
“They are putting huge amounts (of money) into pet projects… the new student center,” Thomson said. “Those things are good for the university for but not good for raising salaries and maintaining the cost of living for (faculty).”
Nevertheless, Reimonenq is confident that faculty salaries here are not too far from where they need to be.
“We have a maximum and minimum market rate for professor in a given field,” Reimonenq said. “It’s supply and demand.”
“We will continue figuring out strategies to work with inequities,” Morgan said.
“It’s certainly not a flat line. In order to be competitive, we need to be able to make appropriate comparisons with other colleges,” Morgan added.
Though Morgan said salary increases will be closely tied to enrollment numbers.
“Certainly, enrollment drives our ability to increase pay,” he added.
Though many faculty believe that it’s a matter of priorities and that the University should simply devote a higher percentage of its budged to salaries.
Galo Pesantes can be reached at email@example.com.