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Full UWRF professors awarded salary compensation

October 23, 2008

A plan to award all full professors an extra $2,000 for the 2008-09 school year was approved by the Faculty Senate and former Chancellor Don Betz last spring.

When compared to the salaries of full professors at other schools in the UW System, professors at UW-River Falls were earning significantly less, according to Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Mary Halada.

“Certainly the biggest [pay] variance was for full professors,” she said. “We decided to spend some base resources to reduce that variance.”

The pay plan was also implemented to try and solve the salary inequalities among assistant, associate and full professors at this University, Faculty Compensation Committee Chair Stephen Olsen said.

According to Olsen, in the 1980s, assistant professors at UWRF were hired at generally very low entry-level salaries. As they have been promoted in rank through the years, their pay has not always increased, with some professors not receiving any increases at all. However, in more recent years, the University has had to hire assistant and associate professors on at higher salaries in order to be competitive with what other universities were paying them. This has led to “compression,” or a salary difference between the ranks, with some assistant and associate professors currently being paid more than full professors, Olsen said.

“The real problem was to deal with the compression,” he said.

In 1999 when Gary Thibodeau was chancellor of UWRF, a motion passed which granted assistant professors a $3,000 salary bump when they achieved associate status and a $4,000 bump for associate professors achieving the status of full professor, Olsen said.

“Basically, the $3,000 and $4,000 bumps haven’t changed since 1999 until now,” he said. “This means that there has been no cost of living adjustment for almost 10 years.”

Halada said she knows of about 100 other universities that have used money from their base resources to boost the salaries of full professors. She also noted that, even after the extra $2,000, UWRF full professors are still earning “between $4,000-$5,000 below the average.”

There are approximately 102 full professors on campus, and all were awarded the extra $2,000 for this school year on July 1. If the budget allows, the program will be continued for the 2009-10 school year.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but it still doesn’t solve the problem,” Halada said.

UWRF science professor Eric Sanden is one of the full professors who received the $2,000 increase.

“I think it’s a well deserved pay increase for full professors at the University,” Sanden, who has been teaching here for 17 years, said. “We rank near the bottom of the pay scale compared to professors at other UW schools, even though our faculty is outstanding and many have won awards.”

In addition to the salary bump for full professors, the Motion for UWRF Faculty Salary Adjustment and Salary Preservation also states that, starting this school year, “the award increments for promotion to Associate Professor and Full Professor will be increased yearly by a percentage that equals the approved pay plan percentage increase.”

The motion presented by Faculty Senate and approved last spring, also states “all monies assigned to unclassified salaries shall remain assigned to unclassified salaries when an unclassified employee leaves UWRF.” Unclassified employees include faculty, academic staff and other administrative staff. This motion simply means that when an unclassified employee retires, resigns, dies or leaves the University for any other reason, their salary will stay in the salary line instead of being used as “a revenue source for UW System budget cuts or transferred to non-salary budget cuts,” except in cases of emergencies, Halada said.

The final part of the motion said that UWRF set aside a minimum of $100,000 each year to an adjustment fund. This will be implemented for the 2010-11 school year, and Olsen said that the money in this fund can be used virtually anywhere it is needed.

All in all, Olsen said he is glad that the most important part of the motion, the compression problem, has finally been resolved after 12 years of different faculty and administrative committees working on it.

“Though [UWRF professors] still rank 11 out of 12 in the [UW] system, after the new pay plan, we’re only now $800 behind,” he said. “The administration really should be complimented for trying to help solve this problem. The whole way through they really did a great job.”