Colleges and Universities and Education Finance and Purdue University

Purdue pay freeze could end soon for some

October 13, 2010

Purdue President France Cordova will ask university trustees to approve 1.5-percent merit raises for some employees, providing them with their first pay increase in more than two years, a spokesman said.

The Journal & Courier of Lafayette reports that if the trustees approve the pay raises Friday, it would be the first pay increase for any Purdue employees since they all received 3-percent raises in July 2008.

University spokesman Chris Sigurdson said the merit pay is intended to "help retain key faculty and staff."

The proposal also reserves $1 million for employee bonuses, but Sigurdson said other details such as how and when the money would be distributed were not yet being released.

Cordova was expected to present the plan to the trustees' finance committee on Thursday, and the full board was due to vote on a compensation plan and operating budget change Friday.

State Sens. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, who chairs the State Budget Committee, and Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, were consulted about the pay plan.

Kenley said he felt comfortable with the increase but said careful budgeting and cost controls would have to continue.

"The prospects of state funding and other issues in the next two years are going to be difficult, and they are going to have to continue to (trim costs)," he said. "But I would consider it inappropriate to raise tuition as a way to cover these things."

Kenley and other lawmakers have watched Purdue's budget and tuition increases closely since trustees approved a 5-percent general tuition increase and a $500 fee on incoming students in 2009.

"I asked if this raise would in any shape or fashion affect tuition in the future," Alting said. "(They) said absolutely not."

Sigurdson said money for the pay increases, if approved, would be diverted from other areas where Purdue has cut costs.

Since January, officials have been outlining how they will cut $67.4 million from the university's budget to avoid a structural deficit by 2013 in anticipation of flat or decreased state appropriations.

Indiana University trustees recently approved an overall 3-percent raise for university faculty and staff, effective Nov. 1. Other state-supported universities including Ball State and Indiana State also have approved or are planning modest pay increases for some or all of their employees.

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