Another year and another pay raise for certain faculty members at the University.
Non-unionized faculty members received an average salary increase of 2.8 percent in 2011, a slight increase from the previous year’s average increase of 2.6 percent.
When University President Coleman assumed her position in 2002, she made it a priority to institute a modest salary increase for faculty members each year, Martha Pollack, the University’s vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs, said.
In a testimony Coleman made before the House and Senate Higher Education Appropriation subcommittees last March, she said salary increases are important to retain faculty.
“The last thing we want is to lose talented people,” Coleman said in her testimony. “We have already seen too many leave our state. And so we are very thoughtful about salaries and rewarding people.”
The past year’s reported average salary increase is substantially lower than the previous five-year average salary increase of 3.4 percent. For staff members, the increase this year was an average of 2.2 percent, also lower than the five-year average of 2.5 percent.
Last year, the University’s executive officers received a salary increase of 2.7 percent, higher than the average increase of 2.5 percent from 2005-2009. Pollack noted that in 2009 the executive officers received no salary increase, potentially skewing the average.
Pollack added that though salaries have increased, faculty pay for more of their health care benefits — a policy that was made effective in 2003 and has saved the University $90 million a year in reoccurring costs, and $400 million in cumulative costs.
The funds for salary hikes come from each school and college’s budget, Pollack said. She added that the University allocates money for pay raises from its general fund budget for units that don’t generate their own revenue.
As former dean of the School of Information, Pollack said she was once involved with deciding the salary increases for the school, and considered a wide array of factors, including inflation and retention rates.
“It’s very different for faculty, of course it’s a national market and for staff it’s a regional market, (so) we’d look at what cost of living is, inflation, and we’d look at what kind of funds we have available,” she added.
There are three ranks of appointments for professors at the University — assistant, associate and full professor. When a faculty member reaches a new level, they receive a raise. With only three raises possible over the career of an average professor, annual salary increases serve as a modest reward for the work faculty do, Pollack said.
In her testimony last year, Coleman outlined the importance of merit-based salary increases to keep the University competitive.
“I am proud that we are able to offer competitive salaries throughout the University,” she said in her testimony. “I am not going to punish people for doing a good job. We want the best, and work hard to keep them.”
Pollack said that when salary increases are calculated, an inflation rate of about 2 percent is typically used, so if the total increase is less than 2 percent it serves as an effective decrease in pay for faculty.
Pollack added that salary increases are also calculated into what students pay for tuition. In June, the University Board of Regents voted to increase tuition by 6.7 percent, or $797, for in-state students and 4.9 percent, or $1,781, for out-of-state students for the current school year.
“If we had no salary increases, tuition would be lower,” Pollack said.
Pollack said faculty salaries at the University of Michigan are lower than those at schools such as Northwestern University, Harvard College and Yale University. An annual increase is implemented to keep faculty salaries competitive, she said.
Specifically, University faculty members saw a larger increase than other Big Ten schools, including Ohio State University, which increased its salary by 2 percent and Michigan State University at 2.5 percent. Harvard College also received a maximum salary increase of 2 percent.