New NIU employees paid more

By Madison Kacer

DeKalb | NIU faculty members have encountered a salary inversion, which occurs when new hires are offered higher wages than current faculty members, due in part to the lack of state funding at NIU.

It has been several years since current NIU staff and faculty received pay increases based on their quality of work, according to a letter to NIU President Doug Baker from Faculty Senate President Greg Long, Mark Riley, chair of the Resource, Space and Budgets committee and Faculty Senate Liaison Laura Beamer.

In addition to the lack of state funding, the inversion has also resulted from decreased enrollment, which is the lowest its been in 20 years, said Alan Phillips, vice president for administration and finance.

Because of the lack of state funding, wages and general operational costs are currently being paid using NIU financial reserves, tuition fees and room and board, Phillips said.

Higher wages are offered based on the market rate for the given position, which is determined using the Illinois Board of Higher Education salary and benefits report.

Wages are also determined by an individual’s degree, level of experience and field, Phillips said.

NIU also offers potential new hires increased wages in hopes they will accept the position because many potential faculty members are wary to work at an Illinois institution due to the unstable state budget, Phillips said.

“Because of [the state] budget situation, people are concerned about coming to Illinois and whether or not [NIU] will stay in operation,” Phillips said. “So in some cases, to get good people, we may have to pay even more to offset their concern.”

The budget impasse has resulted from state lawmakers’ lack of agreement on a budget for Fiscal Year 2016. Without a finalized budget, funds for higher education and Monetary Award Program grants cannot be appropriated. Illinois is the only state without a budget.

Although the inversion is a recognized issue, administrators have been focusing on reducing university costs so that layoffs and furloughs, which are unpaid leaves of absence, don’t have to be considered, Phillips said.

“[Handling salaries] is always a challenge, and you’re always trying to make sure that everyone is compensated equitably… .” Phillips said.