Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Florida Atlantic University Faculty Say 1% Raise Is Not Enough

By: Stephanie Delcorio and Nina G. Wills

Florida Atlantic University faculty members are frustrated that an agreement could not be reached with the administration regarding salary increases.

After the recent round of negotiations, FAU’s administration declared an impasse forcing a special magistrate to be called in to conduct a special hearing on Feb. 24.

“Faculty are very frustrated. There doesn’t seem to be a long term plan by the FAU administration,” said Anita Pritchard, president of the FAU chapter of the United Faculty of Florida (UFF).

FAU faculty salaries have fallen below state and national averages, the faculty has not received raises in two years and the average cost of living has increased by over 10 percent, according to a UFF press release.

The faculty’s frustration escalated in September 2008 when the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a six-year contract extension for President Frank Brogan, which includes a 10 percent raise and will raise his base salary to $357,000 a year. The board has offered the in-unit faculty only a one percent raise and $1,000 stipend.

“Who would have imagined that my contract would expire during the worst economic period in the state? It’s tough, but we’re going to have to do whatever it takes. The faculty are the backbone of this university. Are they worth it? Every dime, they are fabulous,” Brogan said.

Brogan’s contract is funded through the FAU foundation, but faculty salaries are funded through the general operating budget, which has suffered almost $19 million in cuts since 2007. Increasing faculty salaries by 10 percent for one year would cost the university $ 9 million and is not viable due to today’s budgetary environment and constraints.

“For his accomplishments, I think President Brogan deserved his raise. I also think for their accomplishments, the faculty deserves a more significant raise than one percent,” said Eric Shaw, professor of marketing and president of the university faculty senate.

Some faculty believe Brogan should not accept the 10 percent raise.

“He should either turn down the raise to symbolize his solidarity with faculty and in appreciation of our loads and decreasing resources, or offer us substantial raises or at least offer raises to those of us able to prove we are also doing our jobs well,” said Meredith Mountford, associate professor of education.

Brogan has refused all raises except for one in 2006, which he donated to the FAU foundation. He has declined a $50,000 bonus and postponed his contract raise until March 2010.

“I am not going to take my salary adjustment until all staff and faculty are satisfied with their contracts. I’m not noble; it’s the right thing to do, Brogan said.

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