The vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday questioned the validity of pleas from Idaho’s college presidents for extra cash to boost faculty salaries.
The presidents contend that raising salaries would stop the drain of talented professionals from their campuses.
But Republican Dean Cameron of Rupert suggested the drain would continue even if lawmakers pumped the millions of dollars into faculty and professional staff salaries the schools have asked for last year and this.
Cameron, who also chaired the committee that assessed pay increase proposals for all state workers, said he could no longer remain silent after two days of campaigning by higher education officials for $3 million this time around in so-called salary equity.
“My concern would be that even if we did salary equity as proposed last year and this year, those same positions would have been lost,” Cameron told Lewis-Clark State College President James Hottois. “The reality is there will always be some we will lose. Someone will always pay higher.”
The problem shows up in the schools’ dramatic shift over the past decade to part-time teachers, who are paid less but who do not offer students the outside-the-classroom experiences full-time professors can. In 1988, Hottois said only 15 percent of the faculty was part-time. Today it is 37 percent.
Boise State University President Charles Ruch said his school is aggravated by the number of private employers in southwestern Idaho that are always in the market for qualified people.
Ruch said faculty turnover at Boise State is over 10 percent a year but the professional staff is turning over at nearly a 25 percent rate.
He said people are leaving $30,000-a-year jobs at Boise State to do the same thing for a private business nearby for $50,000 a year or more.