Next fiscal year, all Williams College faculty and staff will enjoy a 2 percent raise in compensation. This raise, per a recommendation from the Board of Trustees, prematurely terminates what had been a planned two-year salary freeze for all employees that went into effect July 1, 2009.
“Over the course of constructing next year’s budget, we worked hard to find a way to fit in at least some modest level of compensation increase,” said Bill Lenhart, provost and treasurer. At the April Board meeting two weekends ago, senior staff proposed a budget that incorporated a 1 percent raise for all continuing employees. However, the Board instead recommended a 2 percent raise for all current employees.
“It was a combination of the success on the budget cutting front and a break in the market that helped the endowment,” said Greg Avis ’80, chairman of the Board. “Given that the faculty and staff are the most valuable assets at the College, and that they’ve endured some sacrifice, we felt that this move was appropriate.”
“The Board wanted to underscore the high regard it has for the faculty and staff of the College, as well as recognize the great work our employees do every day,” Lenhart said, adding that recovery signs in the economy facilitated the increase.
In instituting these raises, the Board chose to increase the avail rate, or the endowment spending limit, for the next fiscal year. In addition, the Early Retirement Program (“18 faculty, 82 staff express interest in early retirement,” April 14) will incur additional endowment spending in the short run.
Employee compensation constitutes approximately half of the College’s operating expenses. As such, Lenhart explained that a 2 percent increase in this area represents about a 1 percent increase in overall spending. “Excluding the one-time costs of our retirement incentive program, asset use for next year is expected to be somewhat, but not greatly, above the $73 million target set by the Board,” he said. This year’s revised target for endowment expenditure is roughly $79 million, a figure comparable to the $78.5 million spent from the endowment in 2009-10.
“Our faculty and staff are obviously absolutely central to achieving the educational mission of the College, and compensating them adequately is an important objective,” said Bill Wagner, dean of the faculty. “We felt that providing some level of salary increase for next year was highly desirable if financially possible, and we are very pleased to have been able to achieve this objective.” He noted that reactions from faculty members have seemed “very positive” thus far.
According to the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) 2009-10 report on faculty salaries, the average salary of full-time faculty members nationwide rose only 1.2 percent this fiscal year, the lowest increase recorded in the 50 years of the AAUP faculty salary survey. “Naturally, the College is mindful of the steps our peers are taking,” Lenhart said, noting that he expects next year’s 2 percent raise “to be at or above the average for the institutions with which we normally compare ourselves.”
President Falk expressed optimism about the move. “There is no question that the core of the College is its people – our students, faculty and staff,” Falk said. “Even in these difficult economic times, I am gratified that we have assembled a budget that protects our investment in that core, increasing the resources devoted both to financial aid and to faculty and staff compensation.”