Budget includes 3 percent faculty and staff pay raise, presidential search looks hopeful

Trustee Joel Anderson, President Pro Tempore of the board of trustees Marty Abroms and Interim University President John Thornell participate at the board’s quarterly meeting Sept. 8.

by News Editor Ashley Remkus

Faculty and staff received a pay raise, the 2014-15 budget was passed and news of identified presidential candidates was announced at the quarterly meeting of the board of trustees Sept. 8.

The board approved the $75 million budget of $25.5 million in state funding and an expected $47 in tuition and fees.

Included in the budget is the first pay increase for faculty and staff in seven years. University employees got a 5 percent raise in 2007 and received a one-time bonus of $725 last year to offset an increase in retirement fund contribution.

“I really do believe we have one of, if not the best, faculty and staff of any college,” said President Pro Tempore of the board Marty Abroms. “This cost of living adjustment is way overdue.”

Abroms said faculty and staff members are the people who keep students coming to UNA and ensure their success.

“From a staff perspective, this will be a huge morale boost for them,” said  Staff Senate President Jimmy Waddell. “We’ve been trying to get an increase in salary for a while, and now I’m happy we finally got one.”

Many staff members have to work two jobs to make ends meet, as some only make $9.35 per hour, Waddell said.

“I know they will be grateful when they hear the good news,” he said. “I’m thankful for the board and President Thornell. They were able to dig deep and find funds for the faculty and staff.”

Faculty Senate President Scott Infanger said the increase in salary for faculty members will benefit the entire university community.

“Raising the salary will keep us competitive against other universities, so we can retain the talented (faculty) members,” Infanger said.

Trustee Joel Anderson, chair of the presidential search committee, reported a bright outlook for finding a new university president after receiving 46 applications for the position.  

Anderson said the committee identified 19 highly qualified candidates and chose nine candidates to interview for the position in the coming weeks — five candidates Sept. 19 and four candidates Sept. 26.

Anderson said the candidates were selected based on criteria the committee established early this summer.

“We met recently and the search committee spent the better part of the day going into each one of those 19 resumes, and we’ve selected nine we are going to interview,” he said. “I was just absolutely delighted at the quality applicants we got and reasonably confident in there is the one we’re looking for.”

Anderson said the committee is optimistic and hopes to report to the board it has chosen the right person “in the near future.”

Abroms said John Thornell’s appointment as Interim President creates a safety net for the university and allows the committee as much time as it needs to select the right candidate.

“Right now President Thornell is leading the charge and will continue to do that,” Abroms said.

In other business, Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Clinton Carter announced the university budget also includes funding for four major deferred maintenance projects, including adding better lighting in the parking deck, and renovating restrooms in Norton Auditorium and the former bookstore in the GUC.

Abroms said the outdated Norton restrooms are a “much needed” renovation.

“Norton is an area, particularly, that many, many people from the public come in,” Abroms said. “Our Florence community, our whole Shoals community uses it.”

SGA President KeKoria Greer said she is glad the lights in the parking deck will be replaced with brighter ones, as improving campus safety is a goal set by SGA for this year.

During an SGA-hosted campus safety walk last year, students identified the parking deck as an area where they did not feel safe, Greer said.

“I was very excited becuase it’s great to see the administration addressing things we’ve been talking about — actual student concerns,” she said. “It just goes to show the administration cares about students.”

Editor’s note: The next quarterly meeting of the board of trustees begins with a work session at 9 a.m., followed by the official meeting at 11 a.m. Dec. 15 in GUC Room 200.