Faculty: Potential change sends bad message

Signed by  Chad Bauman, Brooke Beloso, Christopher Bungard, Terri Carney, Vivian Deno, Katharina Dulckeit, Lee Garver, Brent Hege, Lynne Kvapil, Stephan Laurent-Faesi, Andy Levy, Gail Lewis, Ali O’Malley, Sakthi Mahenthiran, Tibi Popa, Jon Sorenson, Ann Savage, Eloise Sureau-Hale, Robin Turner, Harry van der Linden, Michael Vance, Jeanne VanTyle


At the final meeting of Faculty Senate last spring, [vice president of finance and administration] Bruce Arick presented [proposed] changes to the tuition remission policy, approved by the Board of Trustees in December 2012.

We were told that an uptick in students attending Butler under tuition remission caused financial concern, but precise numbers about the long-term persistence of this issue were not presented.

Although discussion was taking place to change the policy by at least December 2012, there seemed to be no plan to share the impact it would have on faculty and staff until the very end of the academic year, when many people depart for the summer and momentum against a troublesome policy can easily wane.

In a rare moment in the Faculty Senate, a motion was unanimously passed without abstention which stated, “The Senate strenuously objects to the proposed revisions to the tuition remission and exchange policy and asks that further discussion involving the entire Butler community be held in the fall of 2013.”

The policy allowed for full tuition remission of spouses/domestic partners and dependents of faculty or staff after they had faithfully served the university for a period of nine months.

The new policy would only allow for 50 percent remission after a full year of service, and then 100 percent remission after three years.

Though salaries for faculty at Butler are lower than many of our peer and aspirant institutions— including practically all of our new Big East colleagues, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual college survey—the tuition remission benefit has proven a very attractive draw for many faculty and staff.

There are plenty of stories of people choosing to come to Butler, and, then, not taking jobs with higher salaries precisely because they see this benefit as more valuable to their families than a bit more money in each paycheck.

As Butler seeks to establish itself as a leader in education, this [potential] change in the tuition remission policy seems at odds with that goal. Why shouldn’t we lead the Big East in enabling families, regardless of how new they are to the Butler family, to be able to afford to attend the school that they dedicate their life’s work to?

When other Big East schools provide benefits unavailable to Butler faculty and staff—including on-site childcare, paid Family and Medical Leave Act, accessible lactation stations for nursing mothers and lower healthcare costs—we who work at Butler have to wonder why the tuition remission benefit is being reduced for future generations of Butler employees.

Many of us believe this kind of change sends a bad message to potential faculty or staff who might second guess the commitment that Butler has to those of us who put so much time and effort into creating the best educational experience we can for Butler students.