NIU could lose senior faculty

By Ken Goze

NIU, already in the throes of salary crunch that threatens retention of promising young faculty, also stands to lose many of its older, experienced faculty under a pending state early retirement bill.

Although more than 150 people—a mix of full-time and temporary faculty—received some kind of salary adjustment this year, most of NIU’s nearly 1,100 faculty members received no increase.

Since the state provided no allowance for merit or across-the-board raises, increases were limited to promotions, counter-offers, retirement arrangements and other previous obligations.

NIU Provost Kendall Baker said six of 14 special adjustments totalling $14,000 went to the psychology department to stem a flow of faculty to other institutions.

“It was very clear that we were losing junior faculty to other institutions because of our overall salary level,” Baker said.

Last year, NIU lost the chairmen of theater, foreign languages and literature and the Russian division to outside recruiting.

In a separate development, a state bill under consideration could, if passed, encourage many university employees to retire early.

A current plan in effect for all other state employees allows those 50 years old with five years of service to “buy” five years of age. The bill has a sixth-month window, giving eligible employees only half a year to decide on the offer.

JoAnn Bergren, assistant manager of the Universities Insurance Office, said as many as 900 of NIU’s 3,400 employees could be eligible.

The move is intended to save money by replacing higher-paid faculty with lower-paid replacements. However, large lump payments to retiring faculty for sick days and vacation time might drain money for hiring new faculty, who are likely to demand high salaries.

Officials also estimate that passing the bill at current funding levels would bankrupt the already under-funded State University Retirement System by 1997.