UM views plans to raise pay

The Board of Curators is looking at two plans for faculty pay raises.
Friday, June 1, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:13 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

It would cost the University of Missouri System $21 million over three years to bring faculty salaries in line with those at peer institutions, interim system President Gordon Lamb told the Board of Curators on Thursday.

Lamb laid out the basics of two possible models of acquiring the funds, both of which would rely on a 1 percent reduction in the operating budgets of the system’s four campuses. Curators approved the 1 percent plan at their April meeting to create an “efficiencies” pool that is aimed at raising UM faculty compensation.

Lamb said that one way to raise salaries would be to match the campus reductions with equal amounts from tuition revenue and state appropriations. That plan would require a tuition increase of 0.29 percent more than the anticipated Consumer Price Index, as well as additional state appropriations.

The second plan outlined by Lamb, which he described as more “politically viable,” would split the burden equally between state appropriations and the efficiencies pool. This could be accomplished by an 0.85 percent increase in state allocation for each of the three years and would require each campus to cut a bit deeper into their operating budgets to fund the efficiencies pool. Lamb said the second plan might be more acceptable because it does not rely on a tuition increase.

However, Rex Campbell, chairman of MU’s Faculty Council and head of the campus’ One Percent Academic Planning Committee, said the second option would require cuts of about 5 percent of each campus’s operating budget over three years and would hurt students.

“I don’t think any tuition increase is helpful (for students),” said Campbell, who described the salary issue as a “Catch-22.” “But neither will it help them if they have fewer professors and larger classes.”

Administrators on each campus are charged with generating the funds needed for the efficiencies pool. Last month, Campbell sent an e-mail to MU faculty soliciting suggestions for cost reductions. Responses included suggestions to decrease paper and energy costs, implement an early retirement program, increase required teaching loads, combine academic departments and decrease the number of adjunct, or non-regular, faculty.

“I think people are a little nervous about how this is going to happen,” said University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Guy Bailey. “But we all see the wisdom of increasing salaries.”

Also on Thursday, Lamb told the Associated Press that curators could announce the name of the new system president as early as today. Citing anonymous sources, the Kansas City Star reported Thursday that New Jersey business executive Terry Sutter is the leading candidate to replace Elson Floyd, who departed UM in April to take over Washington State University.

Sutter, a former president of Tyco Plastics & Adhesives, graduated from the Columbia campus in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He was replaced as Tyco president one year ago after a private investment firm purchased the company and changed its name to Covalence Specialty Materials.

Sutter joins Rep. Kenny Hulshof, R-Columbia, an alumnus of the flagship campus, as one of three finalists for the job. The third possible candidate, according to published reports, is bond fund executive William Thompson Jr., a 1968 civil engineering graduate of the Columbia campus who runs Pacific Investment Management Co.

Curators are scheduled to meet behind closed doors this afternoon to discuss the search. System spokesman Scott Charton said that no announcement regarding the new president is planned. However, employees in the university’s communications department were also told to keep sound, lighting and video equipment nearby in case of a last-minute news conference.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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