LA CROSSE — Regents have approved a plan to increase pay for employees of the University of Wisconsin System by 3 percent each of the next two fiscal years, which includes employees at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
The Board of Regents unanimously approved the pay plan at a meeting in La Crosse on Thursday. Regents also backed an identical pay plan for UW-Madison.
The proposal, however, still needs legislative approval before it could start July 1.
The proposal calls for full state funding of the general wage increase, and comes after six years of tuition freezes. The state typically provides about 70 percent of the UW System pay increase with the rest funded by tuition.
System officials say pay raises have trailed inflation in recent years, and that faculty salaries continue to lag behind peer institutions.
The UW System has about 39,000 employees statewide.
“As labor markets tighten, salaries rise and inflation increases, reinvesting in UW faculty and staff with modest wage increases will ensure we are not falling behind and losing out on talent we need in Wisconsin,” UW System President Ray Cross said in an announcement earlier this week. “Attraction, retention and recognition of high-quality faculty and staff are critical investment opportunities for future student success.”
The last pay-hike request came in 2016, when the UW Board of Regents and lawmakers approved a 2 percent increase for each year of the 2017-19 biennium. In five of the last eight fiscal years, however, UW System employees have received no pay increases, with increases averaging less than one percent a year between June 2011 and July 2019, according to the System.
Salary gaps, turnover
Faculty salaries lag behind salaries at peer institutions, UW System officials said. For example, salaries for full professors at UW-Madison are about 10 percent below the median for its peer group.
That has led to chancellors fighting for their faculty to remain on campus despite outside recruitment efforts.
The System’s annual faculty turnover report, released Monday ahead of the Regents’ scheduled meeting on Thursday, shows about 7 percent of UW faculty, or 434 people, departed in the 2017-18 academic year. That’s down from the 509 who departed in the 2015-16 school year, but still higher than in 2013-14, when about 330 people left.