Regents approve 3.1 percent salary pool for faculty, exempt professionals

Campus leaders stress need to retain top employees

The CU Board of Regents on Tuesday agreed that keeping employees happy and keeping them, period, are necessary for the university’s continued success. After hearing from campus leaders, the regents unanimously voted to approve a 3.1 percent meritorious salary pool for faculty and exempt professionals, as well as a state mandated increase of up to 3.6 percent for classified staff.

“We are no longer cutting fat, we’re cutting muscle and bone,” said Board Chair Michael Carrigan. “We are losing our talent; we are losing the competition to bring the best generation of teachers and researchers to this university. It’s a difficult decision. Because the state is not doing what it needs to be doing to invest in its flagship university system, we have to look somewhere else for the revenue to try to protect and invest in our faculty leadership and our staff leadership.”

Carla Ho-a, vice chair of the University Staff Council, told the board that voting for the pool would be “an important signal (of) how the Board of Regents feels about our staff and our faculty and the value they bring to this university.”

Campus leadership stressed salary increases were necessary to retain the university’s best and brightest.

“My top priority as chancellor is compensation for faculty and staff,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano. “We’ve taken $11.5 million in cuts this year. With those kinds of cuts, we want to reward the faculty and staff who are here, who are working harder than ever before, with some sort of compensation.”

CU Denver Chancellor Don Elliman said if salaries are increased, employees would be more willing to implement necessary cuts. “We believe a 3.1 salary pool is important to retain the quality of faculty we have and the quality of personnel we have. These people feel like they gave at the office and didn’t get much back for themselves. And they didn’t. If we go back to them and say we really do value what you’re doing, then we can ask them to take some more cuts than they’ve already been willing to take, which is substantial.”

UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said the past four years have been difficult, and that top talent have received competitive offers from other institutions.

“It’s not just salary and adequately rewarding people who are doing excellent jobs for our students,” she said, “it’s also staying competitive so we can continue this into the future.”

Lilly Marks, CU vice president for health affairs and executive vice chancellor at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, said without adequate compensation, the loss of faculty and staff could get worse.

“As our economy starts to rebound, as other institutions with better funding start poaching for talent, we are one of the great poaching grounds,” she said.

President Bruce Benson also spoke in support of the compensation pool.

“Folks, you have got to think about what the cost is of replacing good people,” Benson said. “I think it’s terribly important that we continue to work to keep the people here. If I were doing this, I would be proposing 3.6 percent instead of 3.1 percent. We are doing a heck of a job here and I couldn’t be more proud of our faculty and staff.”