Oct. 10-23, 2003
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Board targets funding for pay, research

By Carol Wood

Following a difficult three years laden with hefty state budget cuts and no state salary increases, the University’s Board of Visitors delivered some good news Saturday morning during its policy discussion on compensation and research issues.

First came approval of $3.5 million (which includes benefits) for targeted faculty and classified staff salary adjustments, to be effective Nov. 25. These are in addition to the 2.25 percent increase already authorized by the state.

Second was approval to invest $60 million for research, including $40 million, in concept, for the first phase of a creative initiative meant to bolster the University’s status as a top-ranked research institution, and $20 million toward construction of MR-6, the planned medical research facility that already had been earmarked to receive state bond referendum funds of $24.2 million.

compensation details

The Board of Visitors unanimously approved the following compensation plans to become effective in November:

• For faculty, both teaching and general, and graduate teaching assistants, a pool equal to 1.75 percent of base salaries was created to give targeted merit adjustments.

• For classified staff, a pool of $250,000 plus benefits was created to give strategic base salary adjustments. A third University-wide annual pool of $200,000 plus benefits was created for one-time bonuses and awards. This pool will be managed at the senior vice presidential level.

In addition to these immediate actions, the board committed, in concept, to a $125.8 million plan (which includes the $60 million mentioned earlier) to attract 10 leading research teams to the University by 2009 and to restore faculty compensation to nationally competitive levels by 2007. Long-range, permanent plans on both these initiatives will be presented to the board at its April meeting.

President John T. Casteen III said the session was the culmination of a series of conversations begun six months ago when board members asked him to enumerate key critical issues facing the University.

Research and compensation quickly moved to the top of the list, and last summer the board requested a focused analysis to ascertain what it would take to accomplish three goals:

While it has been clear for some time that the University was falling behind in salary compensation, the state showed no signs of being able to shoulder its financial obligation to state employees.

Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, gave a brief historical overview of the state’s failure to adequately fund faculty salaries. Despite a State Council of Higher Education for Virginia proposal in the late 1980s to bring faculty salaries at all of Virginia’s public colleges and universities to the 60th percentile of their peers, it has met that goal for the University only once in the past 12 years, he said.

In 2000-01, U.Va. salaries ranked in the 46th percentile among its SCHEV peer group, and in 2002-03, that ranking dropped to the 27th percentile.

Sandridge said that the University would seek to make strategic compensation decisions with both faculty and staff.

In 2000, the state modified its classified pay system, and in the process introduced a special rewards and recognition program. While the state has never funded that program, each vice presidential area has tried to keep it alive through funding at departmental levels. This is the first time University-wide resources have been available.

Provost Gene D. Block’s idea to attract 10 National Academies-level faculty teams to the University was cause for special enthusiasm.

“We as a board are fundamentally making a commitment to the faculty of the University and a commitment to elevating this University,” said board member John O. Wynne. “This plan has the possibility to elevate this University in a way only private universities are doing today.”

Rector Gordon F. Rainey Jr. and Casteen underscored the importance of institutional discipline and following carefully calculated guidelines at every step of the way.


© Copyright 2003 by the Rector and Visitors
of the University of Virginia

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