UI increases staff salaries

By Christine Kim

The salary for top University administrators and faculty has risen in the past few years, a trend that looks like it is going to continue.

New Provost Linda Katehi, former dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University, took office this month with a $320,000 per year salary, an 11 percent increase from former Provost Jesse Delia’s salary of $286,000.

Men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber makes $600,000 each year, making him the highest paid faculty member of the University.

The increase is market-driven – competing for the best by paying competitive salaries, Robin Kaler, associate chancellor, said.

“It’s not uncommon to have people try to hire away our good folks,” Kaler said. “We’re trying to hire professor ‘X’ or administrator ‘X’ and so are Berkeley, Stanford, Michigan and Harvard. Where we’re located, sometimes it’s a little more challenging to get people to come here, but we know that we have a world class University.”

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Salaries are determined not only through the market rankings, but also by other factors, including the particular field and department, past experience, and time spent at the University. Contributions to the market, classroom teaching, development of new courses and textbooks, and scholarly work are also considered.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Chet Gardner said when the University has vacant position, such as Katehi’s, the University does a national search and will have to pay salaries that are competitive nationally. Often at times when a new person is appointed to a high position, he or she makes more than the previous position holder.

“I think at the chancellor level, we’re comparable to the salaries at peer institutions,” Gardner said. “At average, we might be a bit below the competition. It’s simply a fact of life. For the most stellar staff and faculty, these are people who have job opportunities elsewhere and sometimes we have to make . special salary increases to keep them here.”

By having top-notch leadership, students will benefit more when they graduate, Kaler said. A study a few years ago showed the value and return on investment of the University of Illinois degree is greater than many of the University’s peers, she said.

“The stronger your leaders are, the more competitive your institution is,” Kaler said. “The more competitive your institution is, the more sought after our graduates are, and the more value their degree has.”

The difference between the increased and former salaries is paid by tuition increases, grants, endowed scholarships and fellowships, private funding, fundraising, and contributions from University alumni.

“I actually think that it’s a natural progression of funds, and the thing is, to recruit and retain the very best administrators and faculty here we need to pay them the very best,” said Nick Klitzing, student trustee of the University and junior in LAS. “We should pay them as much as we have to, to get them here, but we shouldn’t inflate their salaries more than we have to.”

However, the increase in salaries may cause budget problems in the future, Kltizing said. Until FY 2002, the University received an increase in funding from the state of Illinois. Since 2002, the University has received steep funding cuts and leveled funding, creating budget constraints to the campus and forcing the University to rely on other resources for funding.

“I think it will inevitably create some problems because if we continue to get cut by the state . we’re going to have to divert more funds into administrator and faculty salaries and take that away from other facilities and other resources on campus, or we’re going to have to stop doing that and not be able to retain and recruit the very best faculty,” Klitzing said.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed a 1.5 percent operating budget increase, but the General Assembly has yet to approve the budget. It is unclear whether or not the University will receive an increase.

According to the annual survey of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, the median salaries of higher education administrators increased by 3.3 percent in 2004. Last year, the median salaries increased by 3.5 percent.

Klitzing said he believes that in order to keep up with other universities, this campus must keep up with the inflation of the median salaries. He believes that the inability to keep up with inflation is resulting in the increase of class and lecture size, cuts in teacher assistants, and the increased deferred maintenance problem.

“We need to show the state of Illinois that higher education, specifically U of I, is a huge priority for the state because we create so much economic development and really bring out and create and foster the best and brightest minds,” he said.

As other universities offer higher and higher salaries to the University’s top administrators and faculty, the University needs to keep up with those offers to retain its top leaders, Klitzing said.

“Students and members of the community must realize that, in large part, faculty and administrators are getting paid more and tuition is more, but inflation is more and the U.S. economy has inflated much more,” Klitzing said. “So we’re getting more for our money, and a dollar doesn’t go as far as it did.”