Despite tight budgets and a state funding shortfall, the President’s Cabinet and Budget Council has approved a measure to internally fund a $2 million salary pool that will be used to address a small number of critical retention and recruitment cases.

“High quality programs can only be maintained if the university employs high quality faculty and staff,” said President V. Lane Rawlins. “For this reason, paying competitive salaries is an essential goal.

“Our efforts to pay salaries that are competitive with institutions in other states were dealt severe blows last spring. First the 2002 Legislature eliminated the previously scheduled general salary increase, replacing it with funding for a salary pool for retention and recruitment. Then the governor vetoed the retention pool funding.”

When the university budget was approved in June, a small amount of funding was set aside for retention, and Rawlins pledged to reexamine the size of the pool if revenue receipts met expectations. At his fall address, Rawlins announced that the university would fund the recruitment and retention pool at $2 million. At least $1.5 million of this will be awarded to the academic areas reporting to the provost.

When asked how the university could create this fund, given this year’s budget dilemma, Karl Boehmke, executive budget director, pointed to this year’s record enrollment, which created additional revenues, and the university’s willingness to further prioritize spending and reallocate funds.

“We have a lot of things we need to do as a university, but this is a top priority,” said Boehmke. “The strategic plan identifies salary issues as key to recruiting and retaining the individuals we need to offer the best undergraduate exper-ience and world-class research and graduate programs.”

Deans and other senior administrators will be identifying the most crucial cases for salary adjustments in the coming weeks, with most adjustments effective in January 2003. While only a small number (perhaps 15 percent) of individuals will be awarded increases at this time, the process is expected to improve both retention and recruitment.

Retention increases will be made preemptively, without offers from other institutions. Some funds will be used to increase the value of vacant positions to permit successful recruiting. Any available funds not awarded in this process will be retained to help fund a general salary increase next year.

“This salary pool will help retain faculty and professional staff in a small number of critical cases,” said Rawlins. “It is not, however, a substitute for a general salary increase. Salary increases for all faculty and staff remain our highest priority. We are optimistic that general increases will be funded by the legislature in 2003.

“Even if the legislature fails to provide funding, the institution will consider internal reallocation in 2003 to provide salary increases for all faculty and professional staff.”