The plan for raising East Tennessee State University employee salaries was revealed Friday during the school president’s first state of the university address.
Brian Noland became president of ETSU in January. This semester marks the first full academic year for his presidency.
“As we all well know, faculty salaries have historically trailed regional and national averages at ETSU,” Noland said in an interview before his speech Friday morning in the D.P. Culp University Center. “Depending upon how you count, we’re either in the bottom third or we’re at the bottom. So this is the beginning of a multi-year process to change that position.”
Noland said the plan he has submitted to the Tennessee Board of Regents for approval takes the base salaries of each of the roughly 2,000 employees at ETSU and compares those to each individual’s target pay. That gap will then be closed by 8.5 percent of the difference or an amount not to exceed $5,000.
Limiting the increase to $5,000 allows the greatest percentage investment in salaries to be applied toward those on campus who need the most help, Noland said. Noland said those who would benefit the most would be custodians, grounds crews and others who “work behind the scenes.”
“That’s where you’ll see the largest percentage increases, but regardless, the thing is for the first time in a long time we’re providing salary enhancements and we’re making progress toward closing the gaps between our salaries and those at other institutions and peers,” he said.
State workers got an increase in pay of 2.5 percent this year from the Legislature. That raise became effective July 1. This equity plan would be on top of that raise.
Part of ETSU’s 7.2 percent tuition increase this year went toward establishing a $2.5 million equity pay pool to fund the increases Noland outlined Friday.
The Board of Regents, the governing body for ETSU, will consider the plan for approval at its September meeting.
Should the Regents approve the plan, the raises would become effective in October and be retroactive to July.
Noland’s speech was made at the annual faculty convocation, a meeting held to honor distinguished faculty and recognize new members at the beginning of each school year. Today is the official start of the semester, though classes begin in earnest Monday.
Noland said he was looking forward to the beginning of school and the energy and vitality students bring to the campus.
A fine and performing arts center has long been on a list of buildings requested by ETSU. Noland has said repeatedly that among his priorities for ETSU are to address salaries and to see to the construction of the arts center.
“There are a number of building projects that we’ve talked about over the course of the past nine months and we hope in this academic year we can announce that funding is received or we have planning funds in hand and we can start to realize that long-term dream that we all in Johnson City have had of a performing arts center,” Noland said.
He is also looking forward to the Committee for 125 developing a vision for the university at its 125th anniversary in 2036. This committee consisting of community leaders is scheduled to meet next week.
ETSU also gave three professors the 2012 Distinguished Faculty Awards for teaching, research and service during the convocation.
The winners were nominated and selected by their faculty peers. Each received a medallion, a plaque and a $5,000 check provided by the ETSU Foundation.
Allan Forsman, an associate professor in the department of health science, is the recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Faculty Award in Teaching.
The 2012 ETSU Distinguished Faculty Award in Research went to Dr. Zhi Q. “John” Yao, an associate professor of internal medicine in ETSU’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine.
The 2012 ETSU Distinguished Faculty Award in Service was presented to Rosalind Raymond Gann, an associate professor in the department of curriculum and instruction within the Claudius G. Clemmer College of Education.