To stop more faculty and staff from seeking greener financial pastures elsewhere, Utah's nine colleges and universities need to boost faculty and staff paychecks by between 3 percent and 4.5 percent in the 1989-90 budget, the State Board of Regents heard Friday.
"If we can't do this, then it sends the signal (to faculty) that it won't be worth hanging on," said Weber State College President Stephen Nadauld.University of Utah President Chase N. Peterson said all of the presidents feel the need for some salary adjustments for their faculty and staff. "There needs to be a cost-of-living increase; there needs to be a significant salary increase or else the place will just fall apart from north to south."
When Regent Chairman Eugene W. Hanson asked the other presidents to raise their hands if they agreed with Nadauld's assessment, they all did.
Slipping faculty salaries are driving key faculty from Utah institutions. The erosion of the faculty ranks at the nine institutions was a topic that was woven throughout discussions during the regents' two-day meeting at Southern Utah State College.
The presidents' comments came in a preliminary discussion of 1989-90 budget priorities. The regents plan to hold their budget hearings in September before drawing up budget requests for the next legislative session.
Salaries were listed as the second budget priority behind mandated costs on a list recommended to the regents by Commissioner of Higher Education Wm. Rolfe Kerr.
The second-place ranking clearly indicates the seriousness with which declining faculty salaries are being viewed. Last year enrollment increases occupied the second-place funding spot.
The state legislature requires that mandated costs be funded first. The regents have established guidelines that specify these costs as early retirement, employee benefit packages, utilities, and liability and other insurance costs. But the regents indicated Friday that they might amend that list after hearing predictions of only $2 million to $10 million in new state money for
higher education next year. A 4.5 percent salary increase for faculty would cost an estimated $12.5 million alone.
Associate Commissioner C. Gail Norris said the mandated costs could require $3 million to $5 million in new state appropriations to fund the increases in that category.
The regents also talked about the possibility of getting new revenue of $6 million to $14 million through tuition increases.
One suggested way to reduce the mandated costs was to cut from the employee benefit package. But regent Elva Barnes warned that "Giving to one hand while taking out of the other isn't solving the problem."
A report prepared for the regents by Academic Affairs Officer Lou Jean Flint showed the slippage of faculty salaries in the past four years.
The report shows the estimated differences between average salaries at Utah institutions as opposed to those at similar institutions out of state. Utah salaries were between 20 percent to 32.2 percent lower than similar out-of-state institutions. The range was 13.8 percent to 26.9 percent lower for the total compensation packages for the Utah schools.
"We're going further and further behind our peer institutions. It has to be looked at in a crucial way," Flint said.
It has been three years since the state raised faculty salaries across the board.
In the last two budgets, only 28.4 percent of the faculty received some salary adjustments, but these increases came from a reallocation of internal funds, not from additional state appropriations. These increases averaged 1.2 percent and range from an average of .34 percent at Salt Lake Community College to 3.3 percent at the U.
The disparity of the salaries, coupled with little or no increases, makes it difficult to keep or attract good faculty members, the presidents said.