Cuts threaten faculty salary

By Brian Slupski

Some NIU faculty said they are concerned over the possibility of their midyear salary offset being adversely affected by the budget crisis.

Gov. Jim Edgar’s plan for an across-the-board 3 percent budget cut would force NIU to come up with about $2.6 million. There is speculation that the planned salary offset, which would give faculty a small increment, might be in jeopardy.

University Council Executive Director J. Carroll Moody said NIU presently doesn’t know what will be cut or how many cuts will be made because the state legislature hasn’t decided on a plan for the cuts.

Moody said Edgar’s plan would result in a $2.6 million cut for NIU, or 7 percent of the remaining budget.

An alternate plan proposed by democrats, unlike Edgar’s plan, would make specific cuts for specific programs.

Moody said this could be good or bad for education because the democrats could make a larger or smaller cut in education than the proposed 3 percent.

Moody said he doesn’t “anticipate academics taking a major part of the hit” but feels some cuts in academic programs might be made.

“There is not any question other programs besides academics will be looked at,” Moody said.

David Ripley, a leadership and education policy studies professor, said when making cuts, NIU should “take a hard look at ancillary activities.”

Ripley explained that these activities include athletics, music, overseas travel and 12-month salaries. “I could probably find a million which should be looked at.”

He said it is sometimes easier for administrators to look at salaries and make cuts than it is for them to look at activities. Ripley said administrators should look at activities and their importance to the fundamentals of education and make cuts based on that criteria.

He said he has made comments to the Illinois Board of Higher Education concerning this budget crisis and ancillary activities but has seen no results.

School of Nursing Professor Lorys Oddi said she thinks “it would be absolutely outrageous” for the faculty to take the brunt of the possible 3 percent budget blow.

“They (administrators) should look at other programs besides academics,” she said. “Athletics and administrative positions and salaries should be looked at.”

Oddi commented on the faculty’s loss of buying power over the last decade and said the restoration of that buying power should be high on the university’s list of priorities.

“It (buying power) should be made a priority, otherwise NIU could risk losing some good faculty. Some (faculty members) are in dire straits,” Oddi said.