U asks state for salary increases

The U is falling behind.

When the next state legislative session begins, U lobbyist and Assistant Vice President for Governmental Affairs Nancy Lyon will be fighting to keep the U a competitive school.

Not one person on state government payroll, including faculty and staff at institutions of higher learning, has received cost of living increases for two years.

Schools, especially the U, have a difficult time maintaining and recruiting people under these circumstances.

“They can’t go several years without providing compensation increases in salaries. People need to feel like they’re making money,” Lyon said. Although President Bernie Machen reallocated U resources last year to provide a small percentage raise, the state has lacked funding to give real compensation increases, Lyon said.

Because of this lack of money, the U is falling behind its peer schools in other parts of the country.

Peer schools are those which perform the same level of research and also have schools of medicine and law, Lyon said.

Kim Wirthlin, assistant vice president of health sciences, is also a U lobbyist. She’ll be meeting with legislators this year about the statewide nursing initiative.

The nursing initiative is a statewide campaign to get Utah nursing schools more money to graduate more nurses in order to ease the current nursing shortage.

But Wirthlin agreed that compensation increases are the first priority this year.

“We all have the same need. It affects us all the same,” Wirthlin said. The U lobbyists are also unified with every other state institution of higher learning in this request, Lyon said. This is a problem in the entire state education system, but higher education is especially hard-hit. The U, as the state’s flagship school, is most at risk. “We have to compete nationally and internationally for employees,” Lyon said.

To remain competitive, a 3 to 4 percent salary increase is essential, she said.

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