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Members of the Ohio University Board of Trustees meet on Thursday in Walter Hall (FILE: The BoT is currently not meeting in Walter Hall, but virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic). 

OU sees decreased funding for faculty, increased wages and salaries

Ohio University’s financial struggles have caused a decrease in funding for faculty members across several colleges for the upcoming 2019-20 school year. 

Lower than expected enrollment and other factors have contributed to a “very challenging budget cycle,” said Scott Titsworth, dean of The Scripps College of Communication (Scripps) in a faculty email. 

In the 2017-18 school year, there were 757 faculty and staff members, according to Institutional Research provided by the university. That means there was an average of $71 million spent on salaries and wages for Group I full-time and part-time faculty who work at least two semesters during a given fiscal year. 

Many colleges have been affected by the lack of funding, including Scripps. The college has decided to cut all money allocated toward Group III part-time faculty who temporarily teach instructional courses. 

Eddith Dashiell, an associate professor of communication law, said the holes in faculty positions could cancel courses needed to meet graduation requirements.

“One of the initial steps we will take is to eliminate the money that we have been budgeting for Group III positions,” Titsworth said in a staff email. 

In February, staff members were ensured by Titsworth that “there is no looming crisis” when it came to budget challenges. 

“What I find frustrating is steps hadn’t been taken sooner,” Dashiell said. “They have been talking about declining enrollment every year for the last four or five years.”

Wages and salaries aren’t the only increases staff members received. The total amount of money allocated toward faculty benefits have also gone up.

In the fiscal year 2019 budget report, the university budgeted $121.9 million. This is a $5.8 million increase from fiscal year 2018.

Senior Human Resources Director Greg Fialko said the current benefits given to Group I, Group II instructional personnel, and Group IV visiting faculty consist of health, dental, vision, life and long-term disability insurances.

Fialko also said the same faculty receives educational benefits, adoption benefits, sick leave, professional leave, vacation leave (11-12 month faculty only), as well as state retirement plans.

The total compensation currently given to a Group I faculty member is $147,092, according to Institutional Research. A Group I associate professor currently receives an average of $117,571. Both numbers are expected to increase, according to the fiscal year 2019 budget report. A total increase of $16.6 million has been budgeted to all faculty members.

“Unfortunately, the state of the university budget is such that all units around campus will be facing significant challenges,” Dean Scott Titsworth said in a staff email. 

For the fiscal year 2019, the total salary and wages being allocated to staff and faculty is $372.3 million. In the year prior, the university budgeted $361.5 million toward its staff and faculty. Therefore, the total amount budgeted for wages and salaries has increased by about $11 million. 

Between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years, there was a drop in the number of Group I faculty members employed by OU. The university prior to the approval of increased in wages for 2019 would have had the opportunity to save about $2.7 million in Group I wages alone.

According to Institutional Research provided by the university, the current average salary for Group I Faculty professors is about $94 thousand per year. A full professor currently makes about $113 thousand annually. 

OU’s total revenue, $749.1 million, will not increase from fiscal year 2018 to 2019. While this number rises, costs incurred have increased by $24.4 million. 

Shawn Hawks, co-owner of local tattoo shop Skin Hooked, said his business greatly depends on the financial stability of students. 

“I would say about 80-90 percent of my business comes from OU students. December and June are our slowest months.” Hawks said.

Hawks expressed his love and need for good employees, and said it is impossible to have a good business without good employees.

“Employees are invaluable,” Hawks said. “If your money’s not there, it’s hard to justify a pay raise.”

@ColtAustenW

cw506217@ohio.edu

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