by Glenn C. Miller, UNR NFA President
Merit pay, salary compression and pay equity continue to be major concerns at UNR, as they are in most units of the NSHE. While all would agree that the Governor’s budget has some distinct enhancements for education overall, the lack of merit pay in the budget has long term consequences for maintaining competitive salaries for both academic and administrative faculty. This concern is magnified when state classified employees are receiving step increases.
Since about 1985, merit has been a priority for the NFA, when Jim Richardson and others negotiated that merit increases should be part of the governor’s budget. Prior to that time, pay for faculty in the NSHE was comparatively low, compared to similar public institutions throughout the country. Following the establishment of merit, salaries rose to the point that NSHE faculty salaries were consistently above the average in these surveys, up until 2009, when salary increases effectively stopped. Thus, the absence of salary increases in the governor’s budget is an unwelcome precedent for faculty.
The UNR NFA Board met with President Johnson and Provost Kevin in mid-February to express those concerns. Both the President and Provost had similar concerns about merit pay and were very supportive of efforts by both the NSHE lobbying team and others to promote the need for restoration for merit. They indicated that the lack of merit would continue to erode the ability of UNR to hire and retain high quality faculty and also indicated that the lack of merit that would probably need to be addressed by the Regents, or individual units of the NSHE, even if the legislature does not restore merit.
Salary compression and equity is becoming problematic also, as faculty who arrived prior to 2009 have not seen consistent salary increases, and new faculty are being hired at pay grades that are very close to what faculty make who have been working here for 5 years or more. The president and Provost also recognize this problem and indicated that this will also receive focus, although it will cost additional money that is now in short supply.
As Administrative Faculty were dismissed or moved to other sources of funding during the lean times in recent years, many found that they had been moved from State funding to less secure funding (from tuition, fees or other non-state money). Administrative faculty on state funds are given a one year notice for termination, except in unusual circumstances, while faculty on non-state funds are given as little as a 30 day notice, even if they have worked at the university for 20 years. These changes have dramatically reduced job security. In at least three cases over the past 3 months, administrative faculty have been dismissed with 60 days or less notice. Since state money has been reduced by over 30%, and each institution is now allowed to retain out-of-state funding, the proportion of administrative faculty on 30 day notices is expected to increase, compared to when the Nevada State budget included many of these positions under state funding. Even if an administrative faculty member was hired on state funds, if they were switched, they were most often given a contract with a thirty day dismissal provision.