Officials respond to salary gripes

By The Mercury

Kansas State University’s two top administrators issued a joint statement Wednesday defending their efforts to improve faculty compensation compared with that of administrators while acknowledging that more remains to be done.

The letter from KSU President Kirk Schulz and Provost April Mason came a day before faculty members were scheduled to meet to air grievances Thursday afternoon at Forum Hall. Earlier in the week, the university’s Faculty Senate approved a resolution calling for a moratorium on upper-level pay increases and the creation of new administrative positions until the salaries of faculty and unclassified professionals reached the level of the university’s peer group.

Schulz and Mason acknowledged that pay increases have been provided to some administrators over the past few years, indicating those increases were largely driven by “recruitment, retention, equity and accretion of duties, professional performance awards, tenure track promotions and across-the-board cost-of-living increases.” They said the same standard applied to some non-administrators.

They also took exception to assertions by faculty representatives that the increases had risen by 34 to 43 percent, far higher than the four percent increases afforded to instructional, research and extension faculty.

“The table includes existing positions filled within the past few years and reflects people coming into new positions, where we negotiated competitive salaries, as we have for new faculty,” they said.

A document circulated this week among faculty listed increases of about three dozen top administrators, including Schulz and Mason, in percentages as high as 57 percent for Mason since 2010.

Schulz and Mason said such calculations are flawed because they employ different time frames than faculty adjustments, and thus do not represent “apples to apples’ comparisons.

They also asserted that “progress is being made” on faculty salaries. They said a recent peer comparison listed K-State second among regents institutions in average salary of instructional faculty. They said K-State had also gained in “relative funding” of instructional faculty positions.

“K-State continues to have low salaries compared to our peers across all ranks,” they said. But they cited development of “a three-year compensation plan to address competitive compensation” with most ne investment going to faculty and staff.

The dispute regarding faculty pay is the third significant fight to go public on campus in recent weeks. A month ago, members of the university’s Black Student Union protested threats to the position held by a black member of the faculty, and a few days after that classified employees voiced dissatisfaction with the lack of pay increases they had received over the past several years.

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