UT continues to limit centrally funded salary increases

Jacob Kerr

While the University has announced there will be no centrally funded salary increases from the Tower for the fifth fiscal year in a row, deans are looking at ways to raise salaries within their own budgets.

In an email sent in July, UT President William Powers Jr. informed faculty and staff of the decision.

“I certainly wish we could do more,” Powers wrote. “I’m grateful to everyone on the campus who contributes to the mission of the University and proud of the work you do each day to advance this great institution.”

According to Powers, the University is still trying to offset a $92 million decrease in state funding over the past two years. The Texas Legislature increased UT’s funding by $25 million during the recent legislative session, but Powers wrote it would not be enough for salary increases. 

According to UT spokesman Gary Susswein, the University has not centrally raised salaries since the 2008-2009 fiscal year when a 3 percent increase was given. Susswein said a targeted salary increase was given the following fiscal year. 

Statewide, the average salaries for professors, associate professors, assistant professors and instructors has increased, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. However, the total number of faculty in Texas has decreased. For instance, there were 13,471 full-time professors, associate professors, assistant professors and instructors in Texas in FY 2012; there were 13,440 in FY 2013. 

Faculty Council Chair Hillary Hart said the decision was necessary.

“We do not have the money,” Hart said. “Things are pretty flat in terms of the budget. Those were big cuts two years ago. We’re still trying to recover from that.”

However, Hart said the Faculty Council is working with Powers to increase funding for research.

“There [are] other kinds of benefits other than [a] direct salary increase, and we are working with the president, trying to bring some of those about,” Hart said.

Although there will be no centrally funded salary increase, deans and vice presidents can raise salaries based on the budgets of their respective colleges, schools and departments.

“It depends on what’s in our budget,” said Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication. “We’re going to do everything we can to at least come up with some kind of a raise.”

Jaime Southerland, College of Liberal Arts assistant dean, said his college has helped accommodate its faculty and staff in its budget with salary raises.

“We’ve done this for the last four years, so we’ve built it into our budget,” Southerland said. “So we’re providing a 2 percent pool for our faculty and staff.”

Hart said most faculty members understand the University’s decision.

“I’m not hearing a lot of complaining,” Hart said. “What I’m hearing from faculty is ‘Don’t raise my salary at the expense of laying off a staff member.’” 

The University’s salary policy is still subject to approval from the UT System Board of Regents. The regents will meet later in August.

According to Hart, a future salary increase would require help from the Texas Legislature, which will set the next state budget in 2015.

“We know what our budget will be for the next two years,” Hart said. “Next year is not going to be much different from this year. After that, who knows.”