Despite dwindling state funding, faculty at Indiana's seven public colleges and universities are getting pay raises this year, with Indiana University leading the way with a 5.5 percent salary hike for some of its professors.
Although most of the seven schools' general fund support has either declined or remained flat, administrators say the salary increases are needed to attract — and keep — the best faculty members possible.
"Our best faculty are coveted. We're competing with the very best universities in the country for the talent," IU spokesman Mark Land said.
Land said the salary increases let "our best folks" know that they're valued. Even though times are tough economically, he said IU's trustees and school officials view the higher salaries as important.
At IU-Bloomington and IUPUI, 10 percent of professors are getting a 5.5 percent pay raise, and another 10 percent will get 3.5 percent. Most are them are professors who are being actively recruited by other universities.
IU's raises also include an average 1.5 percent increase for all faculty and staff, with individual raises to be determined based on merit.
Other universities also are giving merit increases, but only IU is giving additional pay raises to retain its top faculty.
With state support for higher education dwindling, the salary increases are paid for through a number of other funding sources. IU and Indiana State University, for instance, are expecting enrollment growth this fall, and all are projecting revenue from tuition increases.
IU says it's able to give more than merit-based pay raises because of savings gained from reducing administrative costs.
Diann McKee, ISU's vice president for business affairs and finance, said the campus in Terre Haute is projecting a 3 percent salary increase, which is contingent on fall enrollment and an assessment of the school's budgetary condition.
Because the university's pay has historically been lower than that of other institutions, she said it's "very important for us to be able to retain this faculty."
Purdue University is giving a 1.5 percent merit increase at the West Lafayette campus, and an option for departments to add 0.5 percent if they have the money for it. But Purdue spokesman Chris Sigurdson said none of the departments has the extra funds.
Sigurdson said the pay increases are modest but critical if the university wants to "retain the faculty and staff we've worked so hard to recruit."
The University of Southern Indiana and Vincennes University, which both received higher general fund support for 2012, are giving 2 percent merit increases.
Ivy Tech Community College, which also received increased state support, is increasing faculty salaries by a minimum of $500 a year.
But the pay raises won't necessarily make much of a difference for the faculty because the consumer price index in Indiana has been on the rise.