Administration looks to distribute internal funds

The Faculty Senate Policy on Faculty Salary Adjustments passed by the Senate would use $150,000 of money set aside by the administration to increase faculty salaries to a level that is competitive with other University of Wisconsin schools and other four-year universities similar to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

All employees of the University of Wisconsin System are employees of the state, and normally, raises would come from the state budget; however, the state has passed employees of higher education institutes over for raises the last several years.

Chair of the Faculty Senate Laura Anderson said the state budget reflects the negative economy.  With the growing cost of health insurance and no raise from the state, faculty has seen a decrease in their take-home pay.

“There have been problems with salaries for years,” Anderson said.  “The last five years of bad economy have set us back even further.”

Anderson said she finds the administration and Chancellor Shields’ attempt to allocate internal funds to salaries admirable.

“Past administrations have not been aggressive in finding funds,” Anderson said.  “Chancellor Shields works hard to lobby the UW system on employee’s behalf.”

The problem the Senate is facing is how to fairly distribute the money amongst the faculty.  Two of the problems associated with faculty salaries are compression and inversion.  Compression is the difference between salary of current faculty and newly established faculty.  Inversion is the difference in salary when new faculty members are hired at salaries higher than those of established faculty.

Not that anyone comes to UW-Platteville expecting to get rich, stressed mathematics professor James Swenson, who wrote the policy passed by the Senate.

“We come to a school like this because we love to teach, and we love the interaction with the students,” Swenson said.  “We are committed to the mission of sharing what we love about our own specialties and disciplines.”

It is important for the university to offer competitive wages to recruit new people, but it is crucial to address inversion and compression to retain the faculty already employed at UW-Platteville, Swenson said.

The issue spreads to all employees of UW-Platteville, not just faculty, said Dean of Liberal Arts and Education Elizabeth Throop.  The academic staff has their own Senate.  Classified employees, such as secretaries and janitorial staff, have an advising group as well.

“It is important that all employees’ salaries are addressed,” Throop said.  “I do not want to see any member of the faculty or staff living in poverty.”

According to the 2010-11 Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, a journal published by the American Association of Professors, UW-Platteville ranked lowest of all the UW schools.  The average salary in 2010-11 was just $56,600 compared to University of Wisconsin-Madison who ranked number one at $97,400.