WMU News

Faculty salaries lead $28.5 million in requests for state funds

October 30, 1998

DETROIT -- Out of $28.5 million in requests to the state for increases in operating funds, Western Michigan University President Elson S. Floyd has made improved faculty salaries his top priority.

The $3.75 million request to boost faculty salaries is the first of six 1999-2000 program revision requests that Floyd recommended to the WMU Board of Trustees Oct. 30 in Detroit. The board approved the recommendations, which now go to the state Department of Management and Budget.

The other five requests, in rank order, are aimed at supporting WMU's premier aviation program, $1 million; holding tuition down, $14.7 million; boosting financial aid for students, $4 million; improving instructional technology, $1 million; and upgrading informational technology, $4 million.

"In order to stay competitive in hiring the faculty necessary to achieve our mission and continue our role as a graduate research university, it is important for WMU to achieve a greater level of salary parity," Floyd said. "It is critical for the University that well-qualified senior faculty members obtain the salary recognition that respects and rewards their work and service to the University."

WMU ranks fourth among the state's 15 public universities in undergraduate and graduate enrollment, external support for research, and the number of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degree-granting departments and degree programs.

Yet WMU faculty salaries rank lower than fourth across the board. Salaries rank sixth for professor, fifth for associate professor, ninth for assistant professor and 13th for instructor. To bring each professor rank to fourth requires increases of 8.5 percent for professor, 2 percent for associate professor and 7.5 percent for assistant professor. An increase of 10 percent for instructor would bring this rank to 11th place.

The $1 million request to bolster operations of the University's world-class School of Aviation Sciences "would help place the state of Michigan in the forefront of collegiate aviation," Floyd said. "Ours

is Michigan's only comprehensive state-operated four-year aviation program."

The funds would provide for five faculty members, one administrative assistant, one maintenance technician, one lab technician and two secretaries. WMU relocated the school to Battle Creek and renovated facilities there in 1997 at no additional cost to the state through local community support.

The request for $14.7 million is to help the University hold down tuition for its students despite WMU's rank of seventh among the state's 15 public universities in state appropriations per student.

"Despite the state's increased support for higher education since 1984, WMU continues to suffer

from under-funding that seriously restricts out ability to assure student access and to provide services commensurate with the mission of a statewide, graduate-intensive university," Floyd said.

"Two solutions are possible, to raise tuition substantially or to request additional state funding," he continued. "The first conflicts with the state's interest in, and the University's mission of, assuring student access to higher education."

The increased revenue would move WMU to sixth place in the state from seventh in state appropriations per student, a step that would help WMU move toward ranking fourth.

The $4 million in funds for student financial aid is needed, Floyd said, because WMU does not receive its fair share of Michigan Education Opportunity Grants. Four other less complex universities receive more of this grant money than WMU.

"This is one consequence of WMU's tradition of keeping tuition increases at or below the cost of living for many years," Floyd said. Of the total, $3 million would be for undergraduate students and $1 million for graduate students.

A request of $1 million for instructional technology would help WMU equip 25 classrooms per year for the next three years with the latest teaching and learning equipment. It would also provide for maintenance as well as the equipping of 15 classrooms per year thereafter. The cost of equipping each classroom ranges between $35,000 and $40,000.

The request for $4 million is to continue WMU's leadership among state universities in the automation of student records and registration. Over five years, WMU could provide automatic transfer of credit evaluation and on-line student registration among several innovations. A portion of the funds would be used to upgrade the University's telecommunications network.

In other action, the Board of Trustees approved a change in arrangements for the deferred compensation of the president. There is no change in the level of that compensation, which is $20,000 per year after five years of continuous service.

Instead of placing those funds in an account on the president's behalf, the funds will go into a Key Executive Stock Option Plan or KEYSOP. WMU will continue to own the assets until requirements of the University's contract with the president are met.

"The change will benefit both the University and the president," said Robert M. Beam, vice president for business and finance. "It means that after terms of the contract are fulfilled, the University has no obligation to administer payouts.

"For the president, the advantages are greater flexibility in the length and timing of payouts and a portion of the payouts may be taxed as capital gains rather than ordinary income," Beam said.

Media contact: Mike Matthews, 616 387-8400, michael.matthews@wmich.edu

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