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May 28, 1998

Two committees recommend 3% salary hike without cut in base compensation budget

Two influential Pitt committees have recommended that the University boost the pool of money available for salaries by 3 percent for the fiscal year that begins July 1 – without first cutting the base compensation budget, as in recent years.

Chancellor Mark Norden-berg declined to comment on the proposal this week.

For faculty, the proposed 3 percent increase would include: Ä 1.7 percent cost-of-living raises for faculty judged by their supervisors to have performed satisfactorily this year.

* 1 percent distributed to each responsibility center for merit raises to reward above-satisfactory performance.

* 0.3 percent for market and equity increases, to be allocated by the central administration.

Market raises are intended to help Pitt retain personnel in disciplines where demand for employees outstrips supply and/or salaries rise disproportionately. Often, the administration awards such increases to keep professors in high-priority units from bolting for better-paying institutions.

Equity raises are supposed to even out salary differences that appear to be based on race, gender or other factors besides seniority and job performance.

The University Planning and Budgeting Committee (UPBC) – including its chairperson, Provost James Maher – endorsed the three-part formula at a May 4 meeting. UPBC is a group of faculty, administrators, staff and students that advises the senior administration.

UPBC did not recommend a formula for awarding staff raises.

The faculty formula originally was proposed by the University Senate's budget policies committee, which approved it May 1.

According to physics professor Richard Pratt, who chairs the Senate committee and serves on UPBC, the formula was a compromise between deans and faculty. "The deans, as usual, argued for awarding raises based solely or mainly on merit," Pratt said, while professors on UPBC favored following Pitt's official faculty salary policy, which calls for cost-of-living raises for satisfactory job performance, along with separate funds for merit, equity and market adjustments.

During the policy's first four years, Pitt's administration has complied with it only twice. Deans and others opposed to the policy call it overly restrictive as well as unrealistic, given continuing low increases in Pitt's state appropriations.

But with a current inflation rate of 1.7 percent and a 3.25 percent hike in the University's state appropriation for the 1998-99 fiscal year, Pitt can afford to meet all of the salary policy specifications this year, UPBC members agreed. At Provost Maher's suggestion, though, UPBC will re-examine the policy next year.

Brian Hart, who as Staff Association Council president serves on UPBC, said the staff group hasn't made its salary recommendation yet. He emphasized that the three-part distribution formula would apply only to faculty.

Pitt administrators plan to present proposed operating and capital budgets to the trustees' budget committee June 18 and to the full board June 25.

– Bruce Steele

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