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July 25, 2002

3.5% hike in compensation pool includes 1.5% for satisfactory performance

3.5% compensation pool hike includes 1.5% for satisfactory performance 'satisfactory'

Pitt will increase the pool of money for employee salaries by 3.5 percent for the fiscal year that began July 1.

In a July 23 University Update, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg announced that the funds will be distributed as follows:

* 1.5 percent for "salary maintenance" raises for all staff and faculty who received at least satisfactory performance evaluations.

* 1 percent for merit, market and equity increases as determined at the unit level.

* 1 percent to be distributed by senior officers to particular units "to address compensation issues in units severely impacted by market forces."

For continuing employees, raises will appear in September paychecks and will be retroactive to July 1.

Trustees approved the 3.5 percent increase in Pitt's salary budget despite the fact that the University took a 3.7 percent cut in its state appropriation for fiscal year 2003. That reduction followed a mid-year cut of 3 percent in Pitt's FY 2002 appropriation.

"We wouldn't be the University of Pittsburgh without the outstanding members of the faculty and staff who make our programs go," Nordenberg said following last week's meetings of the trustees' budget and executive committees. "We think this 3.5 percent investment will help us to remain competitive."

But it won't do much to help Pitt close the gap in competing with private universities for top faculty, he added.

"One reason we have made salaries such a priority is because we find that the University of Pittsburgh, along with many other major public universities, is falling behind [private universities] in the salary competition for the very best faculty members," Nordenberg said.

Arts and Sciences Dean N. John Cooper called the 3.5 percent salary pool hike "very fair in such a difficult budget year." He said the raise, combined with the University's planning and priority-setting in recent years, may help Pitt in competing for faculty against other public universities, at least.

"I think that some other state colleges and universities outside Pennsylvania — schools that have not planned as well as we have for decreases in state support — may slip behind us," Cooper said.

The announced 3.5 percent salary pool increase was a little higher than the raise recommended in May by two committees that advise senior administrators on budgetary matters.

A 3 percent salary hike had been recommended by both the University Planning and Budgeting Committee (UPBC) — which includes administrators, faculty, staff and students, and is chaired by Provost James Maher — and the University Senate's budget policies committee (SBPC), a faculty-only group.

But both committees had assumed that state lawmakers would cut Pitt's appropriation by 5 percent (as Gov. Mark Schweiker had proposed) instead of by "only" 3.7 percent, the hit that Pitt ended up taking.

Both UPBC and SBPC had recommended apportioning what they assumed would be a 3 percent salary increase as follows: 1.5 percent for salary maintenance, 1 percent for unit merit, market and equity, and 0.5 percent for centrally allocated market/equity.

SBPC, in a May 24 memo to Nordenberg, noted that a 1.5 percent cost of living raises would fall slightly short of the 1.6 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for calendar year 2001.

"We also note that in only three of the eight years since the [University's] salary policy was instituted has the maintenance component fully matched the rate of inflation" as measured by CPI.

SBPC's memo (which the committee did not release to the press until after trustees approved the FY03 budget) also pointed out: "Pitt's average faculty salaries have continued to fall well short of the agreed-upon goal of at least the median for each academic rank, of our peer institutions in the Association of American Universities.

"In recent years, the gap between salaries at the private and public AAU institutions has been widening, largely because of constraints on the primary sources of funding for the public institutions, tuition and state appropriations.

"We acknowledge that in terms of resources Pitt is more closely comparable to the other public AAU institutions than to the private ones. However, in view of Pitt's aspirations and accomplishments, we believe that any redefinition of the University's target for average salaries should aim not at the median of the public AAU institutions, but at the top quintile, i.e., the top 20 percent."

During the 2001-2002 academic year, average salaries of Pittsburgh campus full professors ($95,800), associate professors ($65,400) and assistant professors ($56,600) ranked in the bottom third among 61 private and public AAU schools in the United States, and in the middle third among the 34 U.S. public institutions.

The AAU is a group of prominent North American research universities that includes public schools such as Pitt and Penn State and the state systems of California and New York, as well as Ivy League schools and other private universities, including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pennsylvania.

AAU average salaries (including those at the University's regional campuses) for assistant, associate and full professors, as well as for librarians, appeared in the May 16 University Times. The issue is available on-line at:

— Bruce Steele

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