Faculty Senate previews annual budget, seeks nominations

Rachel Christian

The Faculty Senate discussed key parts of its upcoming budget proposal at its annual campus-wide meeting Friday.

While every senate meeting is public, the campus-wide meeting is held each year, “so that the senate can issue a call for nominations for at-large positions,” said Mary Hallock Morris, senate chair.

The meeting took place in Mitchell Auditorium instead of its usual location in University Center East.

“The point of making it in a larger venue is to encourage more faculty members to attend,” said Brandon Field, assistant professor of engineering.

Field said the turnout from outside faculty members this year seemed lower than normal.

Morris reviewed the PowerPoint for the 2014 budget hearing presentations that will take place next week.

Members of the senate focused on several key points in their request, including possible overall salary increases and increased travel funding.

In its travel fund request, the senate plans to ask for an increase in per diem and mileage rates.

They are also seeking the option to bank funds. This would allow individual colleges at USI with smaller travel allocations to save their funds and roll them over to the next year.

It could be the difference between going to a state or national conference.

“Most of this is to keep up with the increased expense of travel,” said Rex Strange, assistant professor of biology. “Any funding that promotes scholarly activity by the faculty and students benefits the university.”

Although a cost of living raise was ruled out, the senate is still seeking an increase in merit raises as well as an overall salary increase across the board.

“Increasing salaries will allow us to retain faculty and allow us to better attract new faculty,” Strange said.

Compared to other four-year public Indiana institutions, USI falls below the median for all levels of faculty, according to data from the 2013 AAUP Faculty Salary Survey.

“Pay increases are always welcome,” said David Daum, an assistant professor in the kinesiology and sport department. “It gives good professors an incentive to stay where they are.”

Other priorities discussed included increasing the use of full-time faculty and endorsing a raise in the Rice Library’s base material fund.

The budget hearing presentation will take place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. April 2, in UC East rooms 2217 and 2218.

In addition to reviewing the budget, the senate also took opening bids for nominations. There was a call for both at-large and college representatives.

Only two were made during the meeting, but the nomination period extends until April 4. Faculty is allowed to nominate themselves for a position.

Vacancies exist in every college for the upcoming year.