University professors upset budget doesn’t include merit pay
University professors were angered this week after discovering the governor’s recommended budget doesn’t include the long-standing “merit pool” money used to give raises to professors who are performing above standard.
“Their professors are kind of like our unclassified employees,” said Director of Administration Julia Teska. “And they aren’t getting raises.”
Chief of Staff Mike Willden pointed out the university system has other sources of revenue — including excess student fees the 2013 Legislature allowed the system to keep and use however it wants.
According to university system officials, the merit pool, which provides professors up to 2.5 percent raises, has been budgeted for a total of $28 million over the biennium in the system’s proposed budget.
“If we have to take that (raises) out of student fees, this is a real step backwards when we’re talking about building research universities,” said Professor Jim Richardson, a longtime advocate for the university system and former head of the Nevada Faculty Alliance. “This is a very important issue if the governor is trying to emphasize education.”
Willden said it’s not like the governor didn’t support the system in his proposed budget. He pointed out the system asked for more than $200 million more than its current state budget and the governor included about $100 million of that total.
The budget for the Nevada System of Higher Education does continue formula funding for institutions, including step increases for classified employees, retirement and health benefit costs totaling $46.7 million as well as a $24.3 million expansion of weighted student credit hours.
Also included in Sandoval’s proposed budget is construction of the $45 million UNLV Hotel College. About half of that total is in a grant from Harrah’s Corp. Most of the rest, $24.1 million, will come from bond proceeds with a $500,000 General Fund infusion to cover remaining costs.
In addition, the budget includes more than $8 million to begin development of a southern Nevada Medical School and $3 million in added funding for Boyd Law School in Las Vegas.
Numerous faculty have contacted the university adminstration officials to object to the fact there’s no merit pay.