Budget request focuses on faculty’s salaries, academic performances

As the school year comes to a close, University administrators look to hear from the state of Illinois in regards to its operating budget request for fiscal year 2013. The request, which was submitted in September, addressed an increase in faculty salaries in the hopes of improving academic performance on all three campuses.

“Loss of state support for salary increases since FY2002 (fiscal year 2002) poses perhaps the greatest challenge to the University’s overall quality since the late 1980s,” stated the fiscal year 2013 budgetbook.

It went on to say that the University is now fully funding its own salary program because the state provided little or no salary increase funding between 2003 and 2012.

Randy Kangas, associate vice president for planning and budgeting, said the issue had been discussed on multiple occasions by many people, including members of the Board of Trustees and the Office of the President.

“The top thing that makes a University what it is, is the faculty and staff,” Kangas said. “The budget request that was made last September to the state highlighted (salary increases) and had funding for a 3 percent salary program; we will see what happens based on legislative action in the spring.”

Given the state-University funding history, the University of Illinois Foundation is seeking to find additional ways to fund the increases.

Donald Kojich, vice president for marketing and communication of the University of Illinois Foundation, said the foundation’s started a campaign in 2003 to alleviate the funding situation.

“For faculty support, 1.671 billion dollar goal are what we have raised that are gifts, pledges and commitments,” Kojich said.

In fiscal year 2011, the salary rates of Urbana campus faculty members ranked 19th out of 21 peer public universities, a group of similar universities established as peers by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Paul Diehl, political science professor, said as a faculty member, he would like to see some state money go toward faculty member positions that were cut.

“Generally, we have not received a large salary increase for the last several years, and we have started to fall behind some peers,” he said. “From a faculty member standpoint, it isn’t just paying more for the faculty members that are here but trying to increase the size of the faculty given that it shrinks substantially.”

Diehl said it is vital to recruit more faculty members by having competitive salary rates as the student population increases.

“We like to do a good job in teaching and advising students, and the fewer faculty members and more students, it becomes more difficult,” he said.

Campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the Urbana campus will have “dozens” of staff members to fill the vacancies, hopefully by the fall.