Letter to the Editor: Campus Investments Explained

The Sept. 25 issue of The Flor-Ala included an editorial entitled “Leaders Must Prioritize Campus Investments.” These are certainly important issues deserving the careful attention of the administration, faculty and staff.

I have not been aware of many faculty and staff who will find the 3 percent salary increase detrimental. For employees who think they may see their pay decrease as a result of the raise, I would suggest they visit with the Human Resource Office to determine the actual impact of the raise on their pay. The salary increase is a cost-of-living raise. The cumulative inflation index for the last five years is 10 percent, so this raise is a meager, but important, response to the economic difficulties our employees encounter.

I take exception to the article’s comment that money designated for the raise could have been used for something that would benefit students. The morale of our employees and their job satisfaction are crucial elements of the positive campus climate at UNA.

The campus leadership must do a better job of addressing ongoing maintenance of campus buildings.

We currently spend over $1 million a year on deferred maintenance, but that is not enough. Fortunately, conversations are currently underway that will lead to a different model for handling deferred maintenance going forward.

New buildings being added at a time when we do not do all that is needed to maintain the existing ones is a legitimate concern. New buildings are funded primarily through the sale of bonds, a funding option that is not available for ongoing maintenance. Students expect modern, well-equipped facilities. The current buildings under construction on campus are a response to that expectation.

For the university’s budget to balance we have had to cut out $2.5 million. These cuts require numerous services and programs across campus to be scaled back. To offset this situation, our goal is to grow our enrollment through improved retention and successful recruitment. When we succeed in this growth, it will result in increased revenue from tuition received, a source that constitutes 60 percent of our overall budget. Increased revenue generated from greater numbers of enrolled students will ease some of the current budget strain and protect existing students from significant increases in tuition.

The editorial’s final comment was campus leaders need to make the right decision—one that invests in the people who pay the bills: the students. I couldn’t agree more.