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Baylor hopes to solve pay issues

Aug. 23, 2004

By AMANDA HICKS, copy editor

Faculty and staff can expect a 3 percent average raise pool next year, Marilyn Crone, vice president for human resources and enrollment management, said. This year, Baylor is not giving employee raises in an effort to reduce internal spending.

David Brooks, former vice president for finance and administration, said the raises were the last thing to be cut and the first to be restored.


Graphics data compiled by Kent Gilbreath

"It's a one-year deal," Brooks said. "We have no intention of freezing salaries long-term. We have built a conservative budget this year, so we can have a surplus."

A hiring freeze implemented in February stated that all unfilled positions would not be open until the next fiscal year, which began June 1. Some newly approved positions that the university had never filled were left open, but other spots were filled after a waiver was granted.

"We instituted a process that said if this position is critical to the students or the operation of your division, you can make an application, and we'll do waivers for critical need," Brooks said. "But if it wasn't for a critical need, we held it until June 1."

Brooks said the administration re-evaluated the openings in June and asked the departments which positions needed to be filled.

Baylor economics professor Dr. Kent Gilbreath has addressed faculty compensation in a series of essays and research studies. He said faculty and staff have been increasingly hurt by benefits plans as well as compensation.

"In the coming academic year, not only is the faculty faced with no salary increases, but the value of the income they receive will be diminished by inflation and by higher medical insurance costs," Gilbreath said. "Faculty compensation is not standing still. It's marching backwards."

President Robert B. Sloan Jr. created a task force of 17 members who investigated the impact of faculty and staff compensation on financial planning. The group reported its findings to the board of regents in July.

Dr. Bill Thomas, professor of accounting, chaired the task force. Thomas said the committee established comparative data on Baylor's current position in relation to schools the university is aspiring to emulate.

"We recommended a series of steps to be carried out in the next decade," Thomas said. "We are hopeful that from the findings of this task force, we'll be able to catch up with other top-tier universities."

Baylor is ranked 84th in the latest college rankings by the U.S. News and World Report. This places Baylor in the second tier, which includes schools ranked 50 to 100.

Thomas said the president charged the committee with a mission in accordance with Imperative III of Baylor 2012. The imperative works to develop a world-class faculty. The committee also studied staff compensation issues.

"The imperative does not entail staff, but we felt staff is absolutely vital to reach our goals in recruitment, retention and development," Thomas said.

Thomas said the administration has a passion to move faculty pay structure into the ranks of top tier schools.

"We are aspiring to pay like a top-tier school in addition to being like a top-tier school," Thomas said.

In Gilbreath's study of how Baylor salaries rank against those of other Big 12 schools, he adjusted all comparable salaries for cost of living.

"When you adjust Baylor salaries for cost of living in Waco, these salaries are much more competitive when you look at the dollar amount," Gilbreath said. "That's good news for Baylor."

Gilbreath said that he has not been in favor of raising tuition as a way to increase professors' salaries. He said additional revenues from higher tuition were redirected to other areas rather than to raising faculty salaries.

"For the future, Baylor now has too many financial commitments that are obligations," Gilbreath said. "It will be several years before it has the resources to substantially increase faculty salaries."

According to a Baylor Institutional Research and Testing report, average faculty salaries in 2003-2004 were $86,600 for professors, $67,700 for associate professors and $57,200 for assistant professors.