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University: UL faculty, staff members get raises for first time in six years

Megan Wyatt, The Advertiser, September 10, 2014

Faculty and staff members at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette will receive raises this academic year for the first time in six years.

That was the highlight of a Tuesday afternoon meeting for university employees led by UL President E. Joseph Savoie and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Henderson.

“I think that’s a significant achievement by the administration, and I’m thankful for that,” said Faculty Senate Executive Officer Jim McDonald, who encouraged the crowd to clap for the news.

Hourly employees of the university will receive a 4 percent raise, and salaried members of the faculty and staff will be given raises that average 4 percent but will vary based on merit scores from the 2013-14 academic year.

The formula for the merit-based raises was established by members of the UL Faculty Senate.

Also announced during the meeting was that a one-time $750 salary supplement given to employees during last academic year will be annualized as part of the base salaries for employees.

“We wish we could do more,” Savoie told employees. “But with your continued support and hard work on the initiatives we’ve described, we will do more.”

The faculty and staff meeting is held annually as a way for the president and provost to connect with university employees while sharing budget news and growth plans.

Henderson presented a list of university trajectory goals, which include:

• Raising the six-year graduation rate from 48 percent to 55 percent.

• Bringing in $100 million in research and development funding annually from $77 million.

• Graduating 100 doctoral students annually, up from the current 51.

• Increasing enrollment to 20,000 students from 18,000.

A key point Henderson made was the need to increase the master’s and doctoral student enrollment.

UL awards less than half as many master’s degrees as peer institutions, and only 10 percent of UL’s student body is made up of graduate students. The average is 18 percent for peer institutions, he said.

“Graduate education is not cheap,” Henderson said. “But we are a research university. That’s who we are.”

A number of other initiatives will soon begin or are currently taking place.

Henderson told meeting attendees that some faculty salary inversions — when a faculty member in a higher position is earning less than a faculty member in a lower position — are currently being addressed by Robert McKinney, assistant vice president of academic affairs, with the support of Jerry Luke LeBlanc, vice president for administration and finance.

Henderson is also currently addressing the university’s facilities use and how it fits into the UL Master Plan and the University 100 course, which a surprising number of students do not pass.

About 12 to 13 percent of students fail University 100, which is meant to help students adapt to life on campus and cope with the demands of college coursework.

Henderson hopes to restructure the course around majors or academic programs to ensure that the course stays focused on student success while exciting them about an academic program.

A task force has recently been created at the university to review UL’s sexual assault policy. Dozens of schools face a federal investigation for the way they handle sexual abuse allegations made by students. The task force, which is made up of students, University Police, counselors and student affairs staff, will meet every two weeks.

For the first time, the university will require students to apply for the fall semester by July 1 or pay a fee. No applications will be accepted after Aug. 1 without approval from the president and provost. It’s part of the university’s initiative to become a school of choice, but it will also serve as a way for administrators to plan better.

Few questions were asked by employees following the presentation.

“I’m pleased with the loyalty and commitment we’ve had here over the years,” Savoie said after the meeting. “I’ve seen other institutions that have lost large numbers, but I think there’s something special about this place that people connect with. But in order to keep our faculty and staff, we’ve got to do everything in our power to make them feel appreciated.”