Stagnating salaries threaten strategic plan

Now that we know the latest figures, according to the data USF submitted to the American Association of University Professors, we can measure our discontent with salaries: 2.1%. That’s how much salaries rose from last year, the mean raise for faculty who continued at USF this year. USF faculty raises this year are much less than they were two years ago (4.9%) and were less than raises this year for Hillsborough Community College (3%) and K-12 teachers in Hillsborough County (8%). I suspect that if we looked at raises since 2001, USF’s faculty raises would be much less than at HCC, where the starting salary for someone with just a masters degree rose 54% in a six-year period.

Lower raises for faculty at USF have consequences for the institution: lower morale and higher turnover. When the USF Board of Trustees approved a new strategic plan, the goals were lofty: meeting admissions criteria to the elite Association of American Universities. The vast majority of that work has to be done by faculty and by the majority of faculty. There is no way to meet the needs of the faculty and the university without higher pay. Without meeting the needs of faculty, the goals of the Board of Trustees will go unmet.

We have already seen the erosion of the educational environment this year with substantially increased class sizes for several dozen classes. The federal budget for research grants is not going to increase, which means that hit rates will drop in many programs. Most faculty will work their tails off, as they usually do, but without a significant pool of money for faculty raises, many will also leave, leaving more work for the rest of us.

Four years ago, then-Faculty Senate President Liz Bird argued that low salaries were threatening USF’s future. For a few years, salaries rose faster than inflation. But now that raises lag inflation, we need to remind our community, our legislators, and our Board of Trustees that low faculty salaries still threaten USF’s education and research environment.


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