Faculty, staff get retroactive 2 percent raise

Layla Abbas
LV Life Editor 

University of La Verne faculty and staff will get a 2 percent raise retroactively from July 1, University President Devorah Lieberman announced via email Wednesday.

The University Board of Trustees approved the general compensation raise retroactively, for July through October, the message said. 

The raise, thanks to higher-than expected fall enrollment numbers, restores the general increase, or cost of living increase faculty and staff get annually. 

The raise had been postponed this academic year until January 2019 because of initial projected lower enrollments.

Sharon Davis, professor of sociology, who had served on the faculty compensation committee for 20 years, said she remembers only one time before when raises were similarly postponed.

“Many of the faculty were really stunned and dismayed by (this year’s) announcement,” Davis said. “Not only were they hoping for the increase on July 1, but it also made them wonder about the stability of the school.”

Provost Jonathan Reed said last year the University struggled with making enrollment projections, requiring budget cuts to be made.

“Once we realized, after the term started, that we were on target and even a bit above target with enrollment, we went back and made the pay raise of 2 percent retroactive to July 1.”

In the email, Lieberman wrote that student enrollments for the fall semester are behind total enrollment projections, but enrollment is stable overall.

Davis said the University made a responsible move, but added it was a conservative move. 

“They went back and really corrected a strategy that probably did not need to be put into place in the first place. I do not think people were expecting that,” she said.

Davis said since the University got rid of the concept of longevity, which allowed salaries to increase about 4 percent every five years, the University could struggle to maintain its level of competitiveness with regard to hiring well qualified faculty. 

The minimum pay raise each fiscal year is set to is 2 percent. 

The Social Security cost-of-living adjustments increased from 2 percent in 2017, to 2.8 percent in 2018.

“If we continue at just 2 percent per year, we will start getting behind our comparison (universities) and what they pay their faculty,” Davis said. “We do not want to end up in the same situation that we worked so hard to get out of.”

Richard Gelm, professor of political science, said the news did not come as a shock. 

“It is customary for the administration to essentially indicate things are going to be tough, because that way they can keep salary increases low,” Gelm said. 

In addition to the general compensation news, Lieberman said $1 million from year end reserves will be set aside to establish a scholarship fund for traditional undergraduate seniors who demonstrate financial need 

Lieberman added that more than $6.4 million will go toward a new academic building and improvements to the organic chemistry lab.

“The enrollments are firm, steady and healthy,” Davis said. “I think it restored some of the faith in the health of the University. It also dissuaded any strong criticism of the administration by giving the faculty the increase.”

Layla Abbas can be reached at layla.abbas@laverne.edu.

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