University officials approve increased summer budget

News Reporter

University officials will increase the summer budget for faculty salaries by $2.9 million to amend a long-standing budgetary shortfall.

President’s Cabinet officials have approved an increase in summer funding. The increase will correct an imbalance caused by previously unfunded raises for faculty members and competitive starting salaries for new faculty, Provost Eugene Bourgeois said in an email.

“As we awarded merit raises and raises for faculty promotions, in addition to paying higher salaries for new faculty, it resulted in the fixed summer budget not ‘keeping up’ with the real increase in the cost of faculty staffing for summer,” Bourgeois said.

The summer budget for faculty salaries has increased in accordance with the nine-month allocation in more than five years, Bourgeois said.

“In past years, (President’s Cabinet officials) sent out fixed allocations to the dean of each department, and they would come back with additional needs,” said Cynthia Opheim, associate provost of Academic Affairs. “We’ve known for some time that those increased allocations would be necessary, so now we’re recalibrating.”

The cost of hiring faculty has increased, and the enrollment growth has necessitated the addition of new instructor positions, Opheim said.

Texas State spent $692,000 to fill new faculty positions in the last fiscal year. Officials expect that amount to increase to $1,587,000 next year, said Gordon Thyberg, assistant vice president of Budgeting, Financial Planning and Analysis.

“We benchmark faculty salaries to a national median,” Opheim said. “We look at similar universities and set hiring salaries at that level to stay on equal ground with institutions that are in line with Texas State’s vision.”

Increases to existing faculty wages played the most prominent role in the creation of the deficit, said Bill Nance, vice president of Finance and Support Services.

Tenured, tenure-track and continuing adjunct faculty typically are paid 8.33 percent of their nine-month based salary for each course taught in the summer, Nance said.

Nance said because of the percentage-based pay scale, each time faculty members receive a raise in base salary, their summer salary goes up.

Faculty raises amounted to $2,270,000 this fiscal year, which will increase next year as the merit pool goes from 2.5 to 3 percent of salaries, Thyberg said.

“Even if we were still using the same number of summer faculty, their salaries have increased,” Nance said. “And the provost has been having to use one-time money each summer to make the academic department budgets balance when they have to pay summer faculty.”

Bourgeois said the money is coming from newly available funds because of enrollment growth and an increase in the university’s state appropriation.

The university received $9,401,979 in new general revenue appropriations for operations from the state, and $6,884,000 from new enrollment, Thyberg said.

Nance said a portion of the $2.9 million will go toward the salaries of adjunct teaching staff that are paid on a per-course basis. However, the majority of the funds will be earmarked for balancing the summer budget for general faculty members.

“In the future, we will increase the summer budget by the same amount that we increase the nine-month faculty salary budget,” Nance said.

Texas State relies heavily on projected state appropriations to determine future spending possibilities, Opheim said.

“The Texas Legislature meets every two years, so we are set up to plan ahead based on that time frame,” Opheim said. “And we can estimate tuition revenue by projecting enrollment numbers, but nothing is for sure.”