Board makes pay raise top priority

Nick Lowrey

Faculty may see salary increase in the 2013 fiscal year after a several year pay freeze.

The South Dakota Board of Regents announced in August its plans to prioritize pay increases for employees for the 2013 fiscal year.

The BOR requested Gov. Dennis Daugaard to make a pay raise of up to 4 percent for all state employees in his budges request to Congress for FY2013, and to make it his top priority. A pay increase in FY2013 would represent the first raise many state employees have seen in three years, including SDSU faculty and staff.

In its fiscal year 2011 fact book, the BOR said the state’s higher education instructor salaries were trailing the region by as much as 7.57 percent in FY2010. Due to the state’s zero-percent salary increase policy, SDSU has fallen even further behind, trailing all but two public universities in the state.

“…We simply have to offer competitive salaries to retain and recruit the very best talent available,” BOR President Kathryn Johnson said in an Aug. 11 press release.

Andrew Ellis is an anatomy and physiology instructor at SDSU who has never seen yearly pay raises.

“I’ve been on the faculty for six years and I’ve only seen one pay increase, so it would be nice to have one, but I haven’t missed it,” he said.

Some faculty see the situaton from a different perspective.

“It’s great for employees if they get a raise, but I think those people who were laid off (due to budget cuts) would have rather kept their jobs,” said Kendall Rohrbach, the SDSU Card Services manager and 13-year staff member.

The BOR budget request also asked for $11.9 million in new state resources to help pay for specific priorities at all six public universities, as well as the state’s special schools. These priorities include $5.2 million to support workforce initiatives in various healthcare fields. Also included is $2.4 million to create the state’s first Ph.D. program in physics to help support the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead, S.D., research facility in the Black Hills.

An additional $4 million will go to programs targeted at South Dakota’s economy, specifically to increase college graduation rates and bolster the state’s research agenda.