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Faculty say pay plan would keep campus competitive

December 11, 2000

Faculty leaders say 4.2-percent salary increases in each of the next two years would sustain the “momentum” created by the 1999-2001 state budget.

“The Madison Initiative phase one, a strong pay plan, and other university-wide initiatives have gone a long way toward keeping UW–Madison competitive nationally,” says Brent H. McCown, professor of horticulture.

“As we consider the 2001-03 budget, we must be committed to keeping up the momentum. We cannot allow our competitive position to slip, especially if we are to ensure that the State of Wisconsin is prepared for the new knowledge-based economy.”

The UW System Board of Regents Dec. 8 endorsed the 4.2-percent pay raise proposal for the 2001-03 state budget. The raises for faculty and academic staff still need approval from the Department of Employment Relations, the Joint Committee on Employment Relations and the Legislature.

McCown, president of PROFS, the Public Representation Organization of the Faculty Senate, says that while annual raises of 4.7 percent would be closer to the national market rate, “the 4.2 percent proposal is very strong and we enthusiastically support it.”

Lawmakers approved pay raises of 5.2 percent in the 1999-2001 state budget in an effort to bring university salaries closer to the national marketplace. That move lifted average starting salaries for UW–Madison assistant and associate professors last year from fifth and sixth, respectively, to fourth out of 12 institutions comprising the university’s official peer group.

The 1999-2000 average salary for assistant professors at UW–Madison was $55,379, while the average salary for associate professors was $64,767, according to the Office of Budget, Planning and Analysis.

Average pay for full professors, however, still lags far behind that of salaries at similar institutions. UW–Madison ranked 10th out of 12 universities last year — the same as 1998-99 — with full professors earning $84,495 on average. The average salary for a full professor at the top-ranked institution, University of California-Berkeley, was $108,736.

UW System President Katharine Lyall told the regents that with the 5.2 percent raises in the last budget, faculty salaries are now just 2 percent behind the national market. Although the proposed 4.2 percent raises are “conservative,” they would eliminate the gap by 2003.

Academic staff salaries across the UW System are 15.6 percent behind the national market, according to Lyall. But rather than present two pay plan proposals — one for faculty and one for academic staff — a single request would carry more weight with state lawmakers.

A combination of state revenue and tuition finance the salaries of most faculty and academic staff. Lyall says it is too early to predict the impact on tuition from the proposed pay raises.

If that state provides its traditional 65 percent of the cost for salaries, the accompanying rise in tuition would not be any higher than average tuition hikes over the last decade, she says.