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Released August 03, 2004


Faculty and staff will be receiving raises at The University of Southern Mississippi for the 2005 fiscal year because of increased revenue and conservative fiscal management.

The Legislature did not provide sufficient money for across-the-board increases for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2004. The state College Board said university presidents could give raises if they found the money. "Over the last two years we've worked very hard to be more efficient with university funds so that we could use our savings to invest in our most important asset - our people," said university President Shelby Thames. "We've made this money by the way we've managed this university."

More than $2.5 million will be allocated to faculty and staff based on merit. An additional $800,000 will be allocated across-the-board to all faculty and staff. With the additional $320,000 distributed to 10 percent of the faculty at midyear, Southern Miss faculty and staff are receiving pay increases totaling more than $3.6 million for the year.

Consideration for raise distribution was given to a number of variables including teaching, research, service, quality of work, quantity of work, credit hours produced, etc. "This has been a lengthy process that was given much consideration and involved input from every level of faculty and staff," said Rex Gandy, dean of the College of Science and Technology. "I had many conversations with my chairs, the other deans, faculty in my college and members of the Faculty Senate. There is always room for improvement, but I believe we did a really outstanding job with this process. We moved slowly, thoughtfully and methodically, and I hope our faculty and staff will be pleased with the outcome."

"First let me say that we are, hallelujah, getting a raise," said Faculty Senate President Dr. David Beckett. "That's a momentous step." During raise discussions Faculty Senate officers met with Dr. Thames, Chief Financial Officer Gregg Lassen, deans and the president's cabinet multiple times to present their ideas for the distribution of the salary increases. Faculty Senate officers proposed that all faculty and staff get a raise because it has been several years since legislative allocations for salary increases were specified for university employees.

"Because Dr. Beckett and the Faculty Senate officers made their point persuasively, I asked Mr. Lassen and our budget office personnel to take an additional $800,000 and allocate $400 per faculty and staff member in addition to their merit-based raises," said Dr. Thames. "I appreciate the approach they took and am pleased that we could work together to reward our personnel."

"The administration listened to us seriously and took our suggestions to heart," said Beckett. "I am pleased that every member of the faculty and staff is receiving a supplementary $400 raise, which will help as a cost of living adjustment for those who have not gotten raises for some time. This approach helps those who need it most."

All faculty and staff received two percent across-the-board raises in 2002. Additionally, sixty-seven faculty members shared $320,000 in midyear merit-based raises in December.

These raises will be retroactive to July 1, 2004, for 12-month employees and for nine-month employees will begin with their first paychecks of the fall semester. Employees hired after January 15, 2004, were not eligible for raises.

"I do not expect the Legislature to be able to allocate money for raises next year or the next," said Dr. Thames. "I do believe though, that we can still give raises again next year if we work together to recruit more students, retain more of our current students, generate more credit hours and spend our assets wisely."


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August 31, 2004 1:14 PM