Statement from President Milliken regarding salary increasesIt is a long-standing goal of the Board of Regents to ensure that faculty and staff of the University of Nebraska are compensated at a level that is competitive with similar universities. Competitive salaries are an essential element in hiring and retaining excellent faculty and staff, which is key to maintaining the quality of the university.
The current economic climate and reduced state revenues resulted in a lower state appropriation than the University had requested for 2009-11. Since personnel costs represent about 80 percent of the state-aided budget, an impact on salaries is inevitable if we are to minimize the loss of jobs. Many faculty and staff have expressed a willingness to accept a reduction in pay or no increase if doing so would preserve jobs and programs.
Because of the way in which budgets have been managed, the state of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska are in a position of relative strength compared to many other states and universities. We have an opportunity to move the University forward, even in these difficult financial times, and to invest in our priorities, including affordable access for Nebraska families, high quality academic programs and additional need-based aid.
We also have an opportunity to increase our competitiveness through strategic personnel investments. This year we are allocating funds in the 2009-10 budget to establish a 1.5% competitiveness pool for faculty and staff salaries. These funds are to be used to address competitiveness on each campus, not for across-the-board increases.
We are also making two adjustments to employee benefits. The University will cover the increase in health insurance premiums expected to go into effect in January 2010, so that participating employees will pay no more for their health insurance coverage. This has a direct impact on the out of pocket costs for all employees who participate in the health insurance plan. In addition, we plan to increase the employees’ life insurance benefit to an amount equal one year’s base salary, up to a limit of $120,000.
Chancellors of the four campuses are responsible for allocating the salary pool pursuant to the guidelines I issued last week. And while they have flexibility on timing and allocation of the salary funds, they must be used for salaries, not to reduce budget cuts. At UNK, faculty salaries will be based on the collective bargaining agreements. At UNO, no faculty salary changes will be made until the resolution of the bargaining process.
We believe this approach will significantly limit the number of jobs lost in 2009-10, while allowing us to take advantage of a position of relative strength to support affordable access and enhance the quality of the university.