Professors discuss reallocating funds to add staff positions

Senior News Reporter

Faculty senators and senate liaisons voted during their meeting Wednesday in support of using funds from faculty merit raises to increase staff positions on campus.

 A 3 percent faculty merit pool would total about $5.5 million and could be used to add staff or increase staff salaries, said Debra Feakes, chemistry and biochemistry senator.

“We’re really talking about a pool, because different departments have different issues,” Feakes said.

Getting new staff is the key because more people are needed, said Mary Ellen Cavitt, music senator. The university has handled dividing its budget well in the past when compared to many others in the country, Cavitt said.

“In my experience, the university has never done a successful redistribution process, in terms of budget,” said Michel Conroy, Faculty Senate chair.

Conroy said there was a priority put on faculty positions and salaries as opposed to staff in the past. The university does not do “budget justification” or an explanation of each part of a budget, Cavitt said.

“In terms of the Academic Affairs budget priorities, the number one priority has been ‘no loss’ faculty positions and increasing faculty salaries (in the past),” Conroy said. “We all know the pie (of money) is only so big.”

Some departments are requesting more staff members, and some officials want to retain the employees they currently have, Feakes said. The amount of staff members needed to be added varies across all departments, Cavitt said.

Susan Weill, mass communication and journalism senator, said the faculty in her department would not likely oppose lessen merit raises overall to hire more staff members, as long as administrators were including themselves in the process.

“But when they feel like the administration is not sharing the sacrifice, that really becomes an issue for the faculty in my department, I think,” Weill said.

The senators agreed the topic of staff prioritization would be a good one for Provost Eugene Bourgeois to consider at an upcoming meeting.