UF’s Board of Trustees voted not to give UF faculty a larger salary increase Thursday.
At Emerson Alumni Hall, the board settled an impasse between itself and the UF United Faculty of Florida union about across-the-board salary raises for UF faculty. UFF requested a 2.75-percent increase in salary for all UF faculty in addition to a 2.5-percent merit increase, which went into effect Jan. 1. The Board unanimously denied the raise due to its inability to afford a 2.75-percent increase, said Steven Scott, the chairman for the Board of Trustees.
Candi Churchill, a UFF representative, said the 2.75-percent raise was necessary because UF faculty should be paid more if the university wants to be a top-10 school.
“This contributes to a feeling of morale as to whether faculty feel truly valued by the university or if only the top earners are going to continue to be rewarded,” Churchill said.
She said the raises could be funded through reserve accounts owned by the university, UF’s Health Science Center and UF Health Shands Hospital.
“We have gone up over $683 million in funds that are not being dedicated to the classroom, to research, to improving the state of Florida,” she said.
Scott said the money available in the reserve accounts is not enough to pay for the raises UFF wants. He said most of the money is for specific purposes and the rest should be saved for emergency costs, he said. Churchill said although she didn’t agree with the board’s decision, UFF will continue to fight for salary raises next year.
Scott said the board couldn’t accommodate the raise unless students’ tuition increased, which the university cannot do under a statute passed by Gov. Rick Scott.
“We have a governor who believes we should not raise tuition, college should be as cheap as it possibly can,” he said.
Sumi Helal, UFF’s chief negotiator, said he joined UFF after experiencing inadequate treatment and pay in his own department.
The raises could be provided through the $19 million in preeminence funding UF received or through tuition from the increase in enrolled students, the UF professor of computer and information science and engineering said.
“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “We sort of expected it, even though we had some hopes.”