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Sullivan commits $65 million to faculty salaries

Proposal would raise salaries, stagnant since 2007, across four-year period; resource shifts will benefit students, McCance says

University President Teresa Sullivan announced this week that the University will commit $65 million in the next four years to raise faculty salaries. To accommodate the raises the University hopes to improve resource allocation and generate more revenue.

University spokesperson McGregor McCance said in an email the money would come from “a variety of sources including state and university funds, philanthropy and possibly endowment funds.”

Sullivan and her team will have to work out the specifics on funding the salary increase over time. But McCance said students would not be negatively impacted by the shifting of funds.

“Students won’t be hurt,” he said. “They will benefit from this effort to keep our best faculty and will benefit if U.Va. is able to compete with the best universities in the world and bring the best faculty here.”

Faculty members’ salaries have been stagnant since a state-mandated freeze in 2007. The University ranks 26th out of the 63 schools in the Association of American Universities for average faculty salaries.

“We’re lagging behind many of our peer schools in the salary area,” Faculty Senate Chair George Cohen said. The University has set a goal of ranking among the top third of AAU schools for salaries by the 2016-17 academic year, according to a University release.

Increasing faculty salaries has long been one of Sullivan’s priorities, but the recent economic downturn strained efforts to establish competitive salaries. The longevity of the salary freeze has brought the issue to the fore as faculty members have now seen no raises or cost-of-living increases for half a decade.

“I think we’re returning to those steps of commitment and understanding of the administration working to compensate faculty members competitively now,” said Gertrude Fraser, vice provost for faculty recruitment and retention.

Two of Sullivan’s stated goals include retention of current faculty members and the recruitment of new members. Faculty recognize these goals as crucial to the University’s future.

“We are going to have to recruit people,” Cohen said. “We want to get the top people we can and in order to do that we have to have competitive salaries.”

Sullivan’s plan will affect prospective faculty members just as much as current ones, McCance said.

“U.Va. like other universities is at an important juncture when numerous faculty retirements are expected in the coming years,” he said. “We believe it’s critical to both retain the top faculty still here, but put ourselves in the best position to attract the absolute best new faculty for a new generation of instruction.”

Although the Faculty Senate was not asked to endorse the initiative proposed by Sullivan, Cohen said the body responded positively to the proposal.