Story by Mikayla Marshall, Staff writer
In President Bob Davies’ State of the University Address, he called for an increase in faculty salaries, an estimated 1 – 2 percent increase, in order to secure faculty members.
Like other public universities, Murray State will continue to have funding cut by the state. Faculty members said they don’t expect the increase to make a huge impact.
David Pizzo, associate professor of history, said the real issue is salary compression, where experienced professors are being paid the same as inexperienced professors. He does not think that the new model will address those gaps.
He said he knows that the administration is trying very hard to fix this issue, but state funds are drying up and not much more can be cut.
“It is a rough time to be in public education,” Pizzo said.
According to kypolicy.org, Kentucky was placed at or near the bottom in several categories for its continued cuts to public college and university funding. That disinvestment threatens to limit access to higher education and opportunities for economic growth. The cut-per-student was the highest in the nation last year, with $179 per student.
Kentucky governor Matt Bevin has said he believes there should be a limit on the federal government’s role in the education system, allowing states and local towns to make education decisions that best suit the unique needs of their communities.
“Education reform has been a success in Kentucky over the past 20 years,” Robert Lochte, professor and department chair of journalism and mass communications, said. “Now we have brighter, eager high school graduates who can benefit from what we offer but cannot afford it.”
Lochte said the salary situation is more of a morale problem and is constantly looking to make working conditions better and have faculty make a little more each year. However, only so much can be done with job design and supplemental income.
Western Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky offer similar faculty salaries to Murray State.
University of Kentucky offers a higher salary, but the city of Lexington has a higher cost environment. Public universities and colleges across the state will continue to have diminishing funds.
There are a higher number of jobs in departments like history, while science jobs are less numerous. Faculty in math or science positions will be paid higher a majority of the time.
Lochte said that at some point, the university is will need to create innovative solutions and forego state funding in exchange for the title to the state assets at the university.
This would give the university the chance to create their own business plan to support the strategic academic plan.
“I have been here 28 years and will retire at the end of June,” Lochte said.
“I came to work here as my first job in a new career, because Doc McGaughey offered me a position and I was close to family in Tennessee.”
He said he stays because of the good program with motivated faculty, staff and students who desire to learn.