Results from K-State’s new budget mixed: professor salaries low

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Financially, this year should be pretty rough for K-State. State support for the university has dropped, and the economy is still in the dumps. Over the past year, K-State officials found new funding in creative ways, offsetting some financial issues, but some problems still persist — specifically, professor salaries.

Bruce Shubert, vice president for administration and finance, said Kansas has passed a little over a 1-percent decrease in funding for all universities, and K-State lost about $2 million in state funding, including small reductions based on bottled water purchases, office supplies and longevity funding.

“When we budget for the university, there’s two types of resource pools in my mind — general use budget, tuition and the state general fund, and the other pool of money is auxiliary and department earnings and grants,” Shubert said.

K-State saw a boost in funding from tuition money due to increased enrollment and grants, even though the money from the state decreased by $2 million. Some of the extra grants funded necessary maintenance projects.

Shubert said K-State would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to complete all the needed fixes, but the university has recently been able to complete several high-priority projects, including fixing roofs, building exteriors and even improving the plumbing in Kedzie Hall, thanks to federal stimulus money and state funding for improvements.

K-State has also received two $1.3 million grants in the past year. One is to help the university learn more about utility costs, and the other is to replace 700 energy-inefficient windows in Waters Hall. A condition of the grant is that improvements must be completed by March.

The recent economic troubles have actually provided some unexpected effects. According to a June 2010 report from the K-State Office of Planning and Analysis, K-State professor salaries have ranked last in the Big 12 for 12 straight years.

Since 1990, even before the formation of the Big 12, K-State professor salaries have never ranked higher than 11th out of those 12 schools. Since the start of the economic woes in 2007, K-State professor salaries have gone from being 8 percent lower than the Big 12 adjusted average to about 4 percent lower. In order to tie the highest professor salaries in the Big 12, K-State would need to increase salaries by 50 percent.

Data for this past year was not included in the study, but Shubert said other universities are seeing more variability in their traditional professor salary increases because of the recession.

“Historically, K-State faculty salaries have been lacking, and it’s not just faculty, it’s classified staff too,” Shubert said.

According to the same Office of Planning and Analysis report, Manhattan has the fourth highest cost of living out of the Big 12 members, which stretches the salary of the professors. Even worse, out of the 118 members of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the difference in pay is even greater than compared with the Big 12 average.

In an Aug. 25 press release, K-State President Kirk Schulz said, “We are raising salaries for our high-quality faculty members and our service-oriented, unclassified professionals. We realize many people have been without salary increases for a considerable time.” This increase will be implemented through a permanent mid-year 2.5-percent pay increase.

For the fiscal year 2009-10, K-State professors received about 17 percent less pay than the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities average, but at the same time, Manhattan has the 29th highest cost of living among those member institutions.

In a comparison with 50 land-grant institutions, K-State professors’ salaries were ranked 44th, above the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and below the University of Idaho-Moscow. In this study, K-State professor salaries were about 18 percent below the average salary and 22 percent below the average total compensation.

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