UNM is millions of dollars behind its peers in terms of faculty pay and as a result is at risk of losing faculty members, administrators say.
Provost Chaouki Abdallah said he was allocated $100,000 last semester to boost faculty pay. At the June 7 Board of Regents Finance and Facilities Committee meeting, Abdallah said this amount is proving to be insufficient and requested an additional $500,000 for be allocated toward boosting faculty pay.
He said that last year, UNM was $8 million on average behind its peers in total faculty pay, and this year it is $10 million on average behind its peers.
The provost isn’t asking for more money. He’s asking that a portion of the $2 million allocated toward hiring new faculty members as part of his academic plan be instead used to pay more to existing faculty members. The committee passed a motion to reallocate the funds.
“This (money) will not be sufficient to completely address the right problem,” he said. “It will send the right message that, to our faculty, that the administration and Board of Regents are aware of the importance and urgency of these issues.”
He said other universities are recruiting UNM’s faculty members and offering them more money.
“I just got an email yesterday from one dean where we have two faculty members, a couple, and they’re being recruited by universities who are not better than UNM necessarily, but the retention offer would cost us about $40,000 to keep these two,” he said.
He said one faculty member, who has brought in $27 million in funded research, is making only $120,000 annually when his market value is $180,000.
Abdallah said it’s more useful to retain successful faculty members than hire new ones.
“A majority opinion was that it’s more efficient to retain and reward approvably good faculty members than to hire new ones at market value,” he said.
He did cite one downside to his proposed reallocation of funds: to reallocate funds away from hiring new faculty and toward retaining existing faculty won’t lower UNM’s high student-to-faculty ratio.
Bernd Bassalleck, chairman of the physics and astronomy department, stood up during the meeting and said his department has a hard time recruiting quality faculty due to inadequate facilities in the physics building on north campus. He said the labs in the building are out of date and that the building has sewage problems.
“Over the last year, we failed twice in attracting new, top-rated experimental faculty members,” Bassalleck said in an email. “And in both cases our completely inadequate building infrastructure played an important role.”
Abdallah did not return an email request for further comment.
The regents Finance and Facilities Committee Chairman Don Chalmers said administrators need to be proactive and, as a preventative measure, make contracts with faculty they’re in danger of losing.
“I think we need to send that message to the faculty that we’re behind this,” he said. “We just don’t have all the money. We do not have all the money to do all the things we want to do, so we’re going to have to prioritize.”