University of Wyoming Salaries Dip Lower, Faculty Continues to Leave

Chart DownThe University of Wyoming wants to provide its students with the best educational opportunities while also allowing its staff members to conduct essential, groundbreaking research. With the goal of being a top-tier land grant university, the University of Wyoming aims to seek out the top, most qualified researchers and professors. However, this is getting more difficult to do, as no faculty members at the university have received a pay raise since 2009, according to a release published on the university website on July 22.

The reason that there have been no employee pay raises in four years is because the state legislature has not provided any funding for these raises. This means that faculty members are picking up and leaving the university in lieu of better-paying opportunities. The trickle-down effect is starting to take shape. The university has now fallen behind its peer institutions when it comes to salary, making it less desirable for the top researchers and professors to work at the University of Wyoming. In addition, students will begin choosing to attend or transfer to other universities, as they look for the most qualified educational degree programs and the best professors to help them along the way.

This topic became a theme of sorts at the University of Wyoming Board of Trustee’s retreat, which took place from July 17-19 in Sheridan, Wyoming. In a release, the University of Wyoming President Bob Sternberg stated that competitive faculty salaries are the best way to attract and retain the best individuals for the job, and without a competitive salary advantage, the university will not be able to achieve its goal of becoming one of the top-tier land grant institutions in the country.

In 2009, faculty members and employees of the university received a 4 percent raise. That was the last time their paychecks saw an increase, despite 1 percent bonuses that are distributed by the state. This is the longest the university has gone without providing pay increases to its faculty members in 30 years. The impact on the university can no longer be denied. In 2009, the salaries at the university were about 7 percent lower than peer institutions that were compared in a Oklahoma State University annual salary study. Fast forward three years to 2012, when that figure had risen to about 11 percent. At the same time, the number of faculty members who left the university more than doubled from 2009 to 2013.

Given the facts at hand, the university Board of Trustees is looking for answers while at the same time crafting a budget proposal to submit to the state. In the 2013 proposal, the board is asking for merit-based employee pay raises that would equal to a 4 percent increase in pay. At the same time, the board is looking to find other ways to fund employee salaries and benefits in order to remain competitive. Options the trustees are considering include a tuition increase and a re-evaluation of how internal resources are used throughout the university.