Funding down, but salary spending up
April 25, 2011 —
With funding cuts to higher education likely to reach 15 percent for the 2011-2012 year, SVSU president Eric Gilbertson said that students will be paying more for their classes.
However, while tuition has risen 31.8 percent since 2005- 06, there has been an increase of 23.3 percent in the amount SVSU spends on faculty. The amount spent on administrators jumped by 21.6 percent during the same period. Statewide, spending on faculty among Michigan’s 15 public universities increased 22 percent and spending on administration increased 30 percent during the same period.
Gilbertson believes that number is misleading.
“It looks like everybody got that much money,” Gilbertson said. “When in fact, the faculty grew by about 11 percent.”
The increase in faculty is a result of higher enrollment, he added, which brings in more tuition to cover the increasing costs.
SVSU Faculty Association President and political science professor Robert Lane said that there are three main ways of controlling employee costs that don’t necessarily involve increasing tuition.
He said that the University could “reduce the number of employees,” “impose a pay cut for employees” or “deny or minimize increases in compensation.” However, both Lane and Gilbertson noted that compensation is spelled out in contracts which cannot be altered unless both sides agree to do so.
“The University has two collective bargaining agreements that we negotiate,” Gilbertson said. “There’s a faculty union and there’s a support staff union. Their raises are set forth in the contract that we negotiate.”
For staff, last year’s annual increase averaged 3.25 percent while administrators averaged a 2.5 percent increase.
The University also tries to increase pay to match the increase of inflation, explained Gilbertson.
He also noted that faculty members expect a pay increase when health care and insurance increases in cost. SVSU pays staff members a fixed amount for insurance, but each staff member chooses an insurance policy based upon individual needs.
“It’s a competitive market. We want to keep and reward good people,” Gilbertson said.
Outgoing Student Association president Julie Boon agreed that professors and staff should receive a decent salary. However, she also noted that this year’s negotiations should focus on keeping tuition rates as low as possible for students, saying that “students need to be able to afford education,” and that the state funding cuts “shouldn’t just affect students; the whole university needs to be equally affected.”
Lane said that while this was the final year of the collective bargaining agreement for faculty, he was “in no position to speculate how this year’s negotiation” would turn out.
Last year, SVSU received nearly $26 million from the state.
The Michigan legislature hasn’t determined how much state funding will be given to universities for the 2011-2012 school year.
Without the state funding estimate, administrators will have to make assumptions about state funding levels to complete the budget.
The 2010-11 SVSU general budget is approximately $108 million, with tuition providing 72 percent of the fund’s revenue, a percentage that will increase if state funding is cut.
The general budget (GB) is a compilation of supplies, capital expenditures and worker compensation. The GB comprises roughly 63 percent of the fund.
Gilbertson said that he hopes by the time the final decision on tuition rates is made in May or June, the Legislature will have approved a budget so that the Board of Control will have accurate data on which to base tuition-related decisions.