Today we are distributing to deans and directors the guidelines for implementing salary and wage increases for the coming fiscal year for UNL faculty and staff. This year campuses have been given some discretion as to the overall percentage of increase. We are authorized to use a pool of “up to 2.5 percent” of the current salary base. This will ultimately need to be approved by the Board of Regents.
For UNL, the issue is of some significance because enrollment revenues for FY2012 fell short, and we are predicting another small enrollment decline this fall. The result is a projected deficit in tuition revenue of $2.84 million if everything (utilities, healthcare costs, salaries) is held constant. Any salary increase will increase that deficit unless it is compensated for by increased tuition rates. Any tuition increase will not be decided by the Board until June. I am reluctant to engage in a process of identifying programmatic cuts to fund a salary increase until I have the opportunity to talk to my administrative team, including the Deans, and faculty representatives.
We face deadlines related to payroll recommendations, and so I am authorizing administrators to move forward with plans for an overall increase of 2.0 percent for both faculty and staff. Raises associated with faculty promotions require 0.33 percent, leaving 1.67 percent for distribution. We will reserve distribution of the remaining 0.5 percent increase authorized for salaries until we have a better understanding of both the tuition revenue for next year and the actual enrollment figures.
General salary funds are to be used for merit increases and not for across-the-board increases. I realize that the competitiveness of our salary structure to recruit and retain top talent for both faculty and staff positions differs from unit to unit, but I do not see an opportunity this year to address structural issues.
The deadline for deans and directors to return information about faculty and staff pay increases is June 6 which will allow time for our budget office to process the information for July 1 implementation.
I remain optimistic about our ability to succeed with the ambitious goals we’ve declared for enhanced enrollment, retention, faculty awards and research expenditures. The importance of student success and the tuition revenue that it produces is ever more obvious. The significant effect of a small enrollment decline on our campus budget is an excellent reminder of the importance that recruitment and retention play in our future. Each of us is now directly affected by our collective ability to recruit and retain a larger and more successful student body. Every one of us will play a key role in attracting and supporting the larger, better prepared and more diverse classes that I know we enjoy in the future.
As always, thank you for your understanding and for your support.