K-State’s administration wants to raise faculty salaries, but that’s a complicated ask

(Photo Illustration by Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

It’s been a while since former K-State president Kirk Schulz first proposed the K-State 2025 Initiative, and while Schulz and former provost April Mason — two of the initiative’s biggest drivers — have since left, its goals and high ambition remain.

Charles Taber, the current provost and executive vice president, said he believes the university needs to raise faculty salaries to reach its goals in the 2025 initiative.

“We have a goal of being a Top 50 public research university,” Taber said. “We’re not going to get there with the current faculty salaries so that’s something we have to address.”

Aside from philanthropy or alumni who privately donate usually to one cause, there are primarily two ways the school gets funding —tuition and from the state of Kansas.

Jay Stephens, vice president for human capital, said that annual salary increases tend to be pretty minimal, about one or two percent.

“Salary, for the people who are here, grows really, really slowly and then what happens is, while that’s going on, the outside market ticks up,” Stephens said. “Things become more expensive. So you start hiring people into your organization with salaries that are right at people who have been here for years, or even slightly higher.”

Between fiscal years 2014 and 2019, certain faculty members had a total increase of $6,144,488. That increase accounts for some clinical professors, distinguished professors, professors and teaching professors.

In fiscal year 2014, the average professor salary increase was $5,629, $4,779 in fiscal year 2015, $4,367 in fiscal year 2016, $5,808 in fiscal year 2017, $6,522 in fiscal year 2018 and $9,802 in fiscal year 2019.

On the administration side, Pat Bosco, dean of students and vice president of student life, makes $211,183. His salary has increased from $199,786 in fiscal year 2014.

Assistant vice president for student life Heather Reed’s salary increased by $20,000 in fiscal year 2017. She now makes $119,512.

Cindy Bontrager, vice president of administration and finance, had an increase of $30,000 in fiscal year 2014 and her pay has gone up $5,875 since then. She is now paid $240,875.

Bontrager said she also wants to make sure faculty salaries go up, which is a complicated process that varies by college.

“The way the process works is that the money gets distributed out to the unit heads, the deans and then they determine how that distribution goes to the departments, and the department heads are the ones that actually determine those salaries,” Bontrager said.

Taber said K-State is “near the bottom” on almost every comparison group.

“Second from the bottom of the Big 12,” Taber said. “We’re within five of the bottom of all land-grant universities. Our average salaries are about 10 percent below our comparison universities.”

There are three criteria the university looks at when they increase faculty pay: research, teaching and service. In order to reward these areas, the school will need more money from the state or need to raise tuition.

“I want to be very clear, this is not a quick issue to solve,” Taber said. “We’re talking about a lot of money, and so we’re going to have to generate a lot of revenue from state returning money, I’m hoping that that will happen, there’s a real effort for that. We’re going to have to find real sources of revenue before we can start this, because it’s a lot.”

I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.