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Salary increase likely for UI employees

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UI President Michael Hogan

President Michael Hogan: university employees could get first salary increase in nearly three years.

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

It could be a lot worse.

That's the silver lining university officials saw in their analysis of the FY12 operating budget at Thursday's meeting of the Board of Trustees in Chicago.

Cuts in the state's Monetary Award Program for financial aid and the lack of a capital budget are reasons for concern, administrators said.

Still, the university may be able to offer a 2.5 to 3 percent salary increase for employees for the first time since 2008, said President Michael Hogan.

"I'm glad to report that our proactive cost savings and a more manageable state appropriation than expected could make it possible for us to offer the first compensation package in nearly three years," Hogan told the board.

"On one condition," he added. "If the governor actually signs the appropriation on his desk for higher education."

Hogan said the university has already realized more than $10 million in savings by following recommendations made by the Administrative Review and Restructuring task force.

"This has also served us very well in Springfield," he added. "Legislators seem a little more willing to help us if we're doing everything we can to help ourselves."

As of June 6, the state was $312 million behind in its appropriations to the university, said Walter Knorr, university vice president and chief financial officer.

This means that although FY11 ends in about three weeks, 46 percent of funding from the state for this year has not been received, he said.

"We’re living with a constant $300 million shortfall from the state," Knorr added. "I don’t expect much relief going into 2012."

The FY12 budget passed by the General Assembly and awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature would decrease the U of I operating budget by 1.15 percent, or about $8 million, Knorr said.

The budget bill does not include funding for capital projects, which could halt the renovation of Lincoln Hall on the Urbana-Champaign campus, he said.

The appropriation bill also cuts $17 million from the MAP program, despite the fact that Quinn had included a $25 million increase for MAP.

"It's clearly hard to be optimistic when you look at this 10-year trend," Hogan said, "but frankly, if someone had told me a year ago that we’d only be taking a 1.15 percent cut — when our internal analysis was 10 percent — right now, 1.15 percent looks pretty damn good to me."


Springfield scorecard

Knorr gave a quick review of proposed legislation that university lobbyists and administrators worked for, or against, in the spring session.

A bill aimed at solving some of the complicated procedures university departments face when purchasing equipment and supplies — caused by new laws meant to make such transactions more open and fair — "just ran out of time," Knorr said, but will be reintroduced in the fall veto session.

"Time will tell," he said about legislation aimed at overturning the state's decision not to award contracts to two health care plans used by thousands of university employees at the Urbana-Champaign campus.

Another bill, which would have removed the university's power to exempt job categories from civil service, was stalled. Legislation affecting employee pensions was postponed, "but I'm sure it's going to be revisited in the fall," Knorr said.

"We have a very, very good legislative team that was practically living in Springfield, working extremely hard in an incredibly chaotic session," Hogan said. 

"Overall, we had many more successes than setbacks."


Diversity among academic professionals

Trustees directed the three campuses to return with more information and new strategies after hearing a report on the lack of diversity among academic professional employees.

Universitywide totals for academic professionals show 72.3 percent white and 27 percent minority, said Eric Smith, director of equal opportunity in university human resources.

Smith said these totals have remained about the same over the last 10 years.

UIC is the most diverse campus with 43 percent minority academic professional employees, while Urbana-Champaign has 16 percent and UIS 9 percent, he said.

Recruitment and retention are the primary reasons for the lack of diversity, Smith said.

The search process for academic professional employees is decentralized and searches are often internal or restricted to the immediate area, he said, primarily due to budget constraints.

Smith said diversity officers at the three campuses are working on a universitywide survey about campus climate and developing diversity awareness training for search committees.

"The flat lack of progress over 10 years tells us something: we’re not serious about this, there’s no enforcement, no real will to change," said trustee James Montgomery.

"There has to be some mandate from the top, some regular monitoring as these APs are hired. Otherwise in 10 years, we'll see the same lack of progress as in the last 10."


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