A new minimum salary for instructors, a CU Board of Regents civics proposal, and the university’s search for its next president were among the topics discussed during the chancellor’s update to the Boulder Faculty Assembly on Thursday, Feb. 7.
In an update about the university’s search for its next president, the chancellor told BFA members that regents hope to announce a successor for President Bruce Benson in mid- to late-April, about three months before Benson–the university’s longest-serving president–plans to step down after more than 10 years of service to his alma mater.
Next week, the CU Board of Regents will consider a proposal to incorporate civics courses into curricula on all three CU campuses offering undergraduate education, and Chancellor Phil DiStefano congratulated the BFA for their recommendation to explore the creation of a certificate at CU Boulder.
The chancellor stressed that the initiative should be faculty-led and interdisciplinary in order to establish an elective certificate program that will draw student interest.
“That is what has been done with other certificate programs, and they have been extremely successful,” he said. “The board understands that we want to move through that process with faculty governance all on the same page. It’s about moving forward with a certificate program, but making sure we do it right.”
DiStefano also shared “late-breaking news” that the university is implementing a new minimum salary level for instructors and senior instructors effective Feb. 1. Faculty who have questions should consult with their deans for more information, he said.
In response to a question about what other positions might be considered for a minimum salary, the chancellor noted that salaries for tenured and tenure-track faculty are a priority for the university. The chancellor also addressed concerns about salary levels not only for instructors and senior instructors, but for lecturers, clinical and other faculty, reassuring the assembly that he, the provost and deans are committed to assessing compensation at all levels.
Katherine Eggert, senior vice provost for academic planning and assessment, acknowledged the compression that occurs when new faculty, including instructors, are hired at higher salaries than those who have been employed by the university for years.
“We have to help deans figure out how to correct those salary issues,” she said, adding that instructors and senior instructors who benefit from the new increases, which will be implemented beginning this month, will also be eligible for annual merit raises in the upcoming evaluation cycle.
The chancellor said that the campus plans to seek the approval of the CU Board of Regents for a salary pool of 3 percent for faculty, instructors and staff merit increases for the next fiscal year.
The chancellor also addressed the issue of graduate student fees, acknowledging that affordability is a critical issue for undergraduate and graduate students.
“We are working closely with UGGS (the United Government of Graduate Students) to address these issues,” he said.
Over the past three years, the university has invested more than $6 million to increase graduate student base stipend rates, to eliminate the graduate student athletic fee, course and program fees, and to cover the expense of summer RTD transit passes for graduate students on appointments. Graduate students with maximum academic appointments also receive full tuition remission and have 91 percent of their health insurance covered.
As part of the university’s budget proposal for next year, the university plans to invest another $2.1 million to the base stipend rate for graduate students, which will result in another 6.2 percent increase in fall 2019. In addition, a task force is working to understand how CU Boulder compares with its Association of American Universities (AAU) peers when it comes to the total compensation it provides to graduate students, the chancellor said.
While he and other campus leaders are aware of the financial challenges faced by graduate students, DiStefano said the university has to be “sensitive to all 32,000 students” who pay fees, and that it would be difficult to eliminate fees for a specific group of students.
Before becoming chancellor in 2009, DiStefano worked in several other academic roles on campus, including professor, dean and provost. He joined the university in 1974 as an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the School of Education.
In opening remarks to the assembly at Wolf Law, DiStefano admitted he had carried many titles over his 44 years at CU, but “the title that means the most to me is professor.”