The Board of Trustees approved a two percent salary increase for college faculty and staff this year. The increase was recommended to the Board by President Bridges at a board meeting in November, and went into effect Sunday, Jan. 1.
Pay raises for college employees have been rare to nonexistent over the past few years, due mainly to the floundering economy. Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Pete Harvey cited increased enrollment and the recovery of the college’s endowment fund as major factors in the college’s ability to increase salaries this year.
“We try to do salary increases once a year. The last few years there have been very little or no salary increases because of the economy, but prior to that it was typically once a year,” said Harvey.
Although salary increases are typically recommended to the college’s budget officers and the Board of Trustees after being discussed by a committee of student, staff and faculty representatives, this year’s pay increase was a little different. Budget officers took the initiative in recommending the increase after discovering that the college’s budget was capable of covering it. The college’s operating budget this year is about $63 million, 60 percent of which goes toward staff and faculty salaries and benefits.
“This current raise came mid-year because the college finds itself in better financial shape than we had projected a year or so ago,” explained Associate Professor of Astronomy and General Studies and Chair of Faculty Andrea Dobson. “[It came about] because the budget officers both wanted to do something to ameliorate the erosion of compensation and found themselves able to do so.”
Dobson said that the pay increase is welcome after the recent drought, although there is still more room for growth.
“My sense is that the raise helps address the erosion in compensation that many college employees have been feeling in recent years, but it’s not that much in actual dollars for most people,” she said.
Adjunct Assistant Professor of General Studies Claire Valente said that many faculty members are appreciative of the raise regardless.
“I think most of us understand that the college has been in a difficult spot [financially],” she said.
Harvey said that he hoped the coming year would prove more fortunate for the college’s budget allotment toward salary increases.
“It’s a relatively small increase at two percent, and we’re hoping to do more in the next academic year as well,” he said.