Faculty, staff leaders optimistic about recommendations

Lindsey Reed

The latest round of budget proposals may not turn out to be as painful as expected.

Proposed faculty and staff salary increases and extra support for campus police are among the budget council recommendations that are leaving some campus leaders optimistic for next year.

Campus police Chief Robert Deane said the council’s recommendation to increase funding for recruiting and retaining police officers will be an asset to the campus.

“It was critical to our department and our ability to attract and retain quality officers,” he said.

Deane said he thanks council members for recommending the increase.

“I was ecstatic, and I was grateful to the campus community for supporting the campus police department,” he said.

The budget council also recommended an average 3 percent salary increase for full-time faculty and staff with full satisfactory evaluations.

Staff Council Chair Elizabeth Paris said the possible salary increases are encouraging for staff members.

“Overall, the staff is very pleased to get that amount,” Paris said. “I think people were pleasantly surprised.”

Faculty Regent Robert Dietle said he looks forward to a day when the university can give salary increases by a greater percentage.

“It’s not a big enough increase to generate a lot of excitement on campus,” Dietle said.

Western’s faculty and staff salaries still don’t match those of its benchmark schools, he said.

But Dietle said the possible salary increases are still positive considering the state’s budget problems.

The council also made a recommendation for a $9 per person, per month contribution to the health insurance plan.

Paris said health insurance costs aren’t expected to dramatically increase next year, but the rates are still undetermined.

“At this point, we don’t know how much it will go up,” she said.

Paris said the university’s administration is committed to partially funding health insurance every year.

The $9 recommendation is less than the $40 contribution from last year, but the university is still keeping up with its insurance funding, she said.

The university made the initiative to fund the insurance plans a little every year so that the university wouldn’t get hit hard by higher insurance rates, which is something that happened a few years ago, she said.

Faculty and staff may not be the only people getting extra help next year.

The budget council also recommended to increase financial aid as tuition increases.

Andy Wagoner, assistant director for Student Financial Assistance, said the amount alloted for scholarships will not be determined until tuition increases for the next academic year are approved.

Wagoner said any increase in scholarships would be helpful.

“I believe it’s going to be a situation where students can cover more of their expenses,” Wagoner said.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]