By SUSAN JONES
Pitt’s budget announcement last week contained several significant increases, including much-anticipated pay raises for faculty and staff, despite state funding for the state-related universities remaining at the same level it has been since 2019.
Those increases at Pitt include:
An operating budget up $100 million from $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2022 to $2.7 billion for FY23.
A pay raise pool of 3.25 percent, with an additional 1 percent available for market, inequities and merit.
A projected research base that will hit $1 billion for the first time.
“Key drivers of the increase were higher undergraduate enrollment on the Pittsburgh campus and in some graduate schools, along with increased research activity, and endowment distribution,” Chief Financial Officer Hari Sastry said in an email.
Pitt’s endowment increased more than $1.4 billion to $5.68 billion during 2020-21, mostly through market gains, which means that even though the percentage distributed from the endowment has stayed the same, the dollar amount available has risen. The incoming first-year student population swelled to nearly 5,000 on the Oakland campus in fall 2021, well over the 4,315 goal.
Despite these increases, Pitt decided to raise tuition for the coming year — from 2 to 7.5 percent depending on school and residency — and increase housing and dining fees. And there are no plans to restore a 1 percent across-the-board budget cut imposed last year. An across-the-board permanent budget cut of 3.7 percent, on average, was implemented for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The capital budget is returning to its pre-pandemic levels. At $667 million for fiscal year 2023, it is slightly more than the $641 million budgeted for 2019-20. Last year’s capital budget was $351 million, which was more than double the $140 million it dropped to for 2020-21 during the peak of the pandemic.
Sastry told the Board of Trustees budget and executive committees that the money will go toward a range of projects, including preservation of existing buildings and new projects to support health science programs and a new arena and sports center.
From all reports, increasing salaries was a top priority in this year’s budget negotiations.
“Increasing the workforce compensation pool was one of the priorities for the FY 2023 budget given the current rate of inflation, intense competition in the labor markets, and the fact that we are following two years in which many faculty and staff salaries were largely held flat during the pandemic,” Sastry said.
In fiscal year 2020-21, there were no pay raises, and in 2021-22, Pitt faculty and staff received increases of 1 to 1.5 percent, depending on their current wages, with the possibility of another 0.25 percent for merit, market or equity reasons. Those at the highest salary levels received no pay raise last year.
Staff Council President Angie Coldren, who sits on the University Planning and Budgeting Committee, said she and the other two Staff Council members on the committee were “pleased to see an annual salary increase higher than it has been in the past decade.” While she expressed appreciation for the work of the CFO and others in “working and reworking various increase percentage scenarios,” Coldren said the Staff Council representatives ultimately voted against the amount because “we wanted a higher percentage.”
“Staff and faculty have worked harder than ever these past couple of years,” she said. “With adapting to a significant change in how we do our work, the labor shortage and assuming more responsibilities, the escalating rate of inflation and low past salary increases, we felt a higher percentage should be considered.”
Coldren said Staff Council would like to see a fund created “to move the Compensation Modernization project forward and bring the salaries of employees, especially long-term employees, up to market comparable rates,” and additional funding be given to departments that continuously operate below normal staffing levels to hire necessary employees.
Senate President Robin Kear, who also sits on the UPBC, said that “an increase in the compensation pool was certainly top of mind for everyone during the UPBC discussions.”
“I am glad that Chancellor Gallagher recognized the need to boost salaries as much as Pitt can,” she said. “The UPBC process is never easy, but we were united around that goal. While not as much as some might like or need, especially with the state of inflation, I truly appreciate Pitt’s efforts and the advocacy efforts of those on the UPBC.”
The announcement about the Pitt salary increases contained one caveat — “Eligibility for represented faculty is subject to bargaining obligations.”
The Union of Pitt Faculty declined to comment about what its negotiating plans are, but the University administration said, “While we are unable to speak for the union or how they plan to approach this topic, the University plans to discuss the approved workforce compensation increases for fiscal year 2023 with the union.”
Salary increases will be in the Sept. 30 (if paid monthly) or Sept. 9 (if paid biweekly) pay but will retroactively take effect as of July 1.
Learn more about eligibility requirements and get answers to frequently asked compensation questions on the salary administration resources page (Pitt Passport required).
In addition, Pitt will be increasing stipends for graduate students with appointments this year by 4.25 percent, and the minimum stipend for GSRs and GSAs will be raised to $9,000 a term, according to an announcement from Amanda Godley, vice provost for graduate studies.
Tuition and fee increases
Tuition, housing and dining costs are going up again this year, after the fees were held steady in 2020-21.
On the Oakland campus, tuition will increase by 3.5 percent for in-state undergraduate and all graduate students and 5.5 percent for out-of-state undergraduates. There are a few exceptions. All undergrads in the School of Computing and Information will see an additional 2 percent increase, and all undergraduate students — in-state and out-of-state — in the Swanson School of Engineering will see a rate increase of 3.5 percent.
On the regional campuses, tuition will increase by 2 percent for both in-state and out-of-state students.
On-campus housing costs will increase by 4.6 to 4.9 percent on the Oakland campus and between 5 and 6 percent on the regional campuses. Dining costs will rise by 4 to 5 percent on all campuses.
This comes on top of increases in student wellness and recreation fees announced earlier this summer for the Oakland, Greensburg and Johnstown campuses.
Both Temple and Penn State — the other two large, state-related universities — are increasing tuition for the coming year as well. Temple students, both in-state and out, will pay 3.9 percent more. Temple also said it will cut its budget by 3.6 percent “to help keep its tuition costs down this academic year.”
A committee of Penn State’s Board of Trustees approved a 5 percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduates and 6 percent for out-of-state at the University Park campus and 2 percent at its regionals, although the plan also includes a provision that undergraduates from households making $75,000 or less will receive a grant covering the tuition increase.
The committee also supported a 2.5 percent salary increase for most Penn State employees. The full board must still vote on the proposals.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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