Trustees give initial approval to new salary plan

The Wake Forest University Board of Trustees gave initial approval to a new plan for raising faculty and staff salaries at its Feb. 3-5 meeting.

Recommended to the trustees by Wake Forest President Thomas K. Hearn Jr., the plan calls for spending $2.2 million during the next two years to lift faculty salaries through merit raises to the average of comparable (joint-admission) institutions. At the same time, an additional $1 million will be spent to boost staff salaries.

The money is in addition to increases already scheduled as part of the university’s long-range financial plan. Earlier plans called for 3.5 percent faculty raises and 2.5 percent staff raises next fiscal year.

Wake Forest will support the plan with a “salary opportunity fund,” established by separating $35 million in unrestricted money from the university’s endowment pool. Returns on the money’s investment will pay for the plan’s cost, and future performance of the fund will be directed to maintaining these relative gains.

Hearn noted that this action was made possible by the strong investment performance of the endowment and reflected the strong commitment of the trustees to equitable compensation.

“This represents an extraordinary step to meet what is clearly a central concern of the campus community in a way that will not directly affect tuition costs,” Hearn said.

The salary plan is part of the university’s 2000-2001 budget to be approved by the board at its April 27-28 meeting.

“This is welcome news,” said Paul Escott, dean of the College. “At Wake Forest, we expect excellence from our faculty members in both teaching and research, and our students prize the attention they receive from dedicated scholars.”

“We have to offer competitive salaries to continue our progress as a university,” Escott added. “The trustees’ action is a very important step in an area (compensation) that will continue to require our close attention.”

Professor of Religion Charles A. Kimball, who attended the meeting, said he “was positively impressed and encouraged by his meetings and conversations with many trustees who care deeply about Wake Forest and are appreciative of the excellence evident among the faculty.”

“I am encouraged by the steps that have been taken to affirm the faculty with this salary plan,” added Kimball, who chairs the religion department.

While salaries for Wake Forest associate professors have exceeded the average of joint-admission institutions, salaries for professors and assistant professors have been below the average. That pattern has developed despite the fact, for instance, that raises for continuing faculty rose by 5 percent in the current fiscal year.

“The rate of salary growth at some other institutions has been moving at a faster rate than our projections anticipated,” said Maureen Carpenter, university controller.

In developing the new salary plan, the administration has closely analyzed the salary growth pattern at peer institutions, such as Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We’ve made the best possible effort to project what it would take to get to the average and stay there,” Carpenter added.

“With the trustees’ approval, the establishment of the new salary fund will play a key role in helping the university work toward its salary goals in the years ahead,” Carpenter explained.

The trustees gave initial approval to the salary plan during a meeting that was extended by a day to focus on university planning. Joining the trustees in a special planning session were administrators, faculty members and students. Representing the faculty were Carole L. Browne, professor of biology and president of the University Senate; James J. Kuzmanovich, professor of mathematics and computer science and chair of the College’s Committee on Academic Planning; Charles A. Kimball, professor and chair of religion as well as former chair of the Committee on Academic Planning; and Miles Foy, professor of law (representing the professional schools).

Students attending include senior Jennifer Blackford, co-editor of Old Gold & Black; junior Cooper Westendarp, president of the Interfraternity Council; senior Khalid Jones, president of the Student Government Association; and junior Neha Patel, a member of the Student Life Committee.

The planning session was part of an overall effort to begin another university planning cycle. The last cycle resulted in the Undergraduate Plan.

In the spring, Senior Vice President Edwin G. Wilson will begin the program planning process, which has become the traditional first step in specific academic long-range planning. The planning format used by the trustees-which included participation by various groups in the university community-will be continued as planning activities progress. Alumni volunteer groups, for instance, will be joining faculty and others in the process.

In other action, the trustees authorized adding The Vanguard Group as a new investment company option for university employees. The addition will provide more investment options for employees’ retirement funds. Current options include investment with TIAA-CREF or Fidelity Investments.

The Retirement Plan for employees was also amended to provide that employees may elect full cashability of their retirement accumulation upon termination of employment. The amendment allows individuals flexibility in investment management by permitting a lump-sum payout as an alternative to the typical lifetime annuity. It is in keeping with present trends in educational institution benefit plans maintained by peer institutions.

Categories: Media Advisory, University Announcement