Instructor pay raise proposed

By Katrina Kelly

Calling his proposal “the first phase of a long-term process,” NIU Provost Kendall Baker outlined a possible system of awarding faculty with promotional salary increases at last Wednesday’s Faculty Assembly meeting.

Baker’s proposal to the Board of Regents calls for a salary increase of $1,500 a year when a faculty member is promoted to associate professor. The promotion from associate professor to full professor would include a salary increase of $2,200 per year, he said.

The current promotional increments are $450 per year for a promotion to associate professor and $540 per year for a promotion to full professor. The Regents will consider the promotional increment policy at their Jan. 25 and 26 meetings, Baker said.

Baker’s recommendation follows a proposal by Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves suggesting that NIU and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale—also a Regency university—offer identical promotional increments.

If approved, the salary changes would begin with this month’s pay. Since January paychecks will be distributed before the Regents vote on the proposed increment changes, compensation for this month would be included in later paychecks if the proposal is approved, Baker said.

By changing the promotional increments, Baker said an “equity problem” is introduced into the existing salary structure. The salaries of 33 faculty members promoted to associate and full professors last July, and thus unaffected by the proposed promotional increments, would be adjusted to bring them to the salary levels created by the proposed changes, he said.

“As soon as one changes a policy (involving salaries), it introduces a problem for those previously promoted,” he said.

Some Faculty Assembly members questioned the origin of the funds that Baker said would be available for salary equity for those unaffected by the proposed increment policy. Baker said the funds would be made available by NIU President John LaTourette.

“It is enormously difficult to identify where funds come from,” Baker said. He said some university projects can be bypassed in order to make funds available for others.

Additional funding is available this year because the Illinois Board of Higher Education has not cut education funding to NIU, he said. In the past, tuition increases have been accompanied by decreases in higher education funding, resulting in little or no net increase in funding to NIU.

“There is not a lot of money to hand out,” Baker said, adding this proposal is “intended to address only a small proportion of the problem.

“This is not the last word on salary adjustments,” he said.

NIU “needs to have a program to provide awards” for faculty, he said. The proposed program would be a step toward “bringing salaries to a level (comparable to other universities) to successfully recruit, retain and reward faculty,” he said.

The current promotional increments do not provide faculty with sufficient rewards and NIU is “losing a disproportionate number of faculty” to other schools, Baker said.