Trustees vote down 1 percent equity raise for faculty, staff

Butler University’s Board of Trustees voted down a 1 percent pay equity raise Saturday for some faculty and staff in light of the university’s failure to meet enrollment expectations this year.

President Jim Danko said he supported the Board’s decision.

“I really felt that it was a wise move to step back for the time,” Danko said. “Really, this is something we’re going to be able to revisit again later this year just as easily.”

Since 2005, university officials have reviewed and updated Butler’s compensation system, making a large effort to uncover equity discrepancies for faculty and staff, according to a president’s memorandum sent to faculty and staff Sept. 14.

Two years ago, the university paid equity raises to qualified faculty and staff but didn’t last year.

The Board did approve a general 3 percent salary-increase pool in May, but when it became clear Butler wasn’t going to make its predicted enrollment numbers, it delayed voting on the equity raise, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jamie Comstock said at the Sept. 6 Faculty Senate meeting.

At that time, Comstock said she predicted that the Board’s decision would fall this way.

Danko said before he even started at Butler, he worked to assure people that the 3 percent pool was going to happen.

“That was my big fight,” Danko said. “There was concern that it was going to be risky to put ourselves out there financially.”

At Butler, compensation increases are heavily tied to enrollment and tuition dollars, which Danko said isn’t the best model.

“For whatever reason, this place has got this link between raises and enrollment,” Danko said. “We need to move away from that. That’s not a good approach.”

Danko said he wants to move aggressively on growing the endowment so that compensation and improving student life aren’t so tuition-dependent.

“I don’t want to operate in that kind of system, that’s for sure,” Danko said. “I don’t expect that to be the case as we move forward.”

Butler employed the help of consultants at Fox, Lawson & Associates to perform the 2005 compensation study.

“The financial impact of study recommendations selected for adoption will be assessed, and plans will be put into place to implement those recommendations within fiscal restraints,” former President Bobby Fong said in a 2005 memorandum.

The study based target salary ranges for employees largely on seniority, responsibilities, performance and department, Vice President for Finance Bruce Arick said.

It also analyzed benchmarks within the market, such as salaries at other regional universities.

Arick said the analysis indicated inequities within departments, especially for female employees.

Danko said that although it’s unfortunate that the university was too strapped financially this year to give out equity raises, he recognizes the concern about the discrepancies.

“We’re below market right now, there’s no doubt about that,” Danko said. “We have to continue to invest in retaining faculty and staff. I look at that as a key priority.”

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