SMS drops policy to cut staff salaries

Sunday, January 20, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Southwest Missouri State University has made a change that could spare employees from a universal pay cut if a faltering economy prompts belt tightening.

State lawmakers are expected to make millions of dollars in budget cuts this year because the recession has reduced tax revenue.

The change, which the university's Board of Governors approved unanimously Friday, eliminates the requirement that a universal 12 percent pay cut take effect before other measures are taken, such as terminating faculty members and academic programs.

But the change would go into effect only if a financial emergency is declared following input from faculty, staff and student representatives.

"It is a touchy issue," university president John Keiser said, and the policy change is "no doubt more than a manageable approach to a difficult problem."

The Faculty Senate recently approved the changes 39-2.

If a financial emergency is declared, part-time and unranked personnel would be cut first, followed by unranked, non-tenured employees. Tenured faculty members with more than 12 years experience would be the last group to be cut.

Although it's a hypothetical situation, "it's always a tough decision on whether or not you want to take a pay cut or have a colleague lose a job," said Tom Kane, an associate professor of psychology. "It's a no-win either way."

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