Budgetary strains disallow staff-wide raises
Each year, Augustana faculty and staff members receive raises to compensate for inflation and rising healthcare costs.
Except for next year. Because of strains on the university’s budget, administration was unable to fund an across-the-board wage increase for university staff.
Instead, with finances it must free up within the budget, administration will target community members who need the raises the most.
The problem, President Rob Oliver said, is finding the funds in the budget without hurting the student experience.
“The pressures are not complimentary, you know, they push against each other,” Oliver said. “I’d love to pay our people more, but it’s difficult trying to find a balance.”
Last year, faculty and support staff earned a 1.5 percent pay increase with money left over in the salary budget. With the money, the administration and Augustana’s personnel council, charged with making recommendations on salaries, selected faculty and staff members most in need of a raise, professor and member of the personnel council Heather Bart said.
That year, board and personnel council members compared the salaries of Augustana faculty to faculty at schools similar to Augustana. The study’s goal was to get positions with wages lagging behind the national average to 90 percent of the national median, Bart said.
This year, Bart said the personnel and administration will continue to address positions—especially among support staff—receiving wages lower than the national average, but there isn’t a large pool of money set for wages, so additional funds have to materialize.
The funding will most likely come from cuts to discretionary spending, said Tom Meyer, vice president for finance & administration.
“We have to be careful that we don’t impact the students or the student experience,” Meyer said. “Those are the two things we hold as sacred, so it becomes a matter of where can we find it in our overhead or in our travel or things of that nature.”
Meyer said most of this budgetary trouble comes from concurrently rising expenses and declining revenues, with revenues still playing catch up.
“We’ve had to do this before, when we weren’t able to do increases, and when you have limited revenues and budgets, you just have to kind of manage your way through it,” Meyer said. “It is a balancing act.”
Bart said she isn’t upset she and some of her fellow professors will not be receiving raises, but she is glad those most in need are getting the attention they deserve and that Augustana is faring better than other institutions around the nation.
“I mean, honestly, who doesn’t want a raise?” Bart said. “But I’d rather see those particular people that are most below the line [get] more in line with their salaries, especially the support staff. I hope that our financial situation continues to improve so we can look forward to raises down the line, but, right now, I don’t mind the sacrifice.”
Meyer said to work through the rough patch, administration has to continue to be frugal, even with climbing enrollment rates.
“It’s just a matter of being prudent and good stewards and [to] manage as we have been,” Meyer said.