Merit-based raises will be given to University of North Georgia faculty beginning this January, which school officials hope will stave off some of the austerity educators faced this year when the state did not approve salary increases in its budget.
President Bonita Jacobs made the announcement during a State of the University speech on Monday before new and returning faculty and staff.
“I want to begin today by focusing on one of our most significant challenges and a top priority for me — retention and recruitment of high-quality faculty and staff,” Jacobs said. “We are working to close the gap in faculty and staff salaries, as compared to peer institutions.”
The 2 percent merit-pay increase the university plans to implement is possible due to growing enrollment and projected tuition revenue coming in this fall, Jacobs said.
“Over the past five years, we have successfully secured additional resources to help address this need and have invested $12 million in merit raises and equity adjustments, while also adding 227 new faculty and 225 staff positions to serve our increased enrollment,” she added.
The university now employs more than 2,000 faculty and staff, and enrolls about 20,000 students across five campuses and online.
“The need (for salary increases) at UNG is critical,” said David Broad, a professor of sociology and the university’s chapter president of the American Association of University Professors.
Broad noted that several other schools in the University System of Georgia had also recently dipped into their own pockets to pay for raises.
“Word got out,” Broad said, adding that he thinks it put pressure on the UNG administration and “they did the right thing.”
Broad said UNG has grown from a regional university serving specific needs to a more comprehensive, encompassing school, and that salaries need to adjust to reflect this change.
Competing with the private sector to recruit and retain personnel is also a growing challenge, Broad said.
Jacobs said supervisors and department heads would be notified soon about eligibility requirements and how to implement the pool of merit increases in January.
She added that a university committee has been tasked with “analyzing faculty salary data to inform our next steps. Their preliminary results indicate that while we do have a troubling gap in many of our disciplines, it is not as severe as we initially believed.”
“I have stewed more over the lack of salary increases than anything else in recent memory,” Jacobs said.