UM's low pay blamed for trouble in hiring faculty

October 26, 1993|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

The University of Maryland System has lost some good professors and may lose more if it doesn't raise salaries substantially, Chancellor Donald N. Langenberg predicts.

Some 70 faculty members who left the 11-campus University System since 1991 cited a better salary as the primary reason, a fact-finding committee reported recently.

In another 60 cases, universities in the Maryland system failed to attract any "outstanding" candidates to fill teaching vacancies because of the state's relatively low salaries, the committee found.

UM faculty members have not had a cost-of-living raise in three years, and overall the average salary in the system rose only 1.4 percent. Nationwide, the average faculty salary has risen 7.7 percent during the past three years, according to UM officials.

Dr. Langenberg and the UM Board of Regents have asked the state for an additional $11 million during the next budget year -- $9 million for salary increases for the best faculty and $2 million for a recruitment and retention fund.

In addition, Dr. Langenberg will ask a regents committee today to approve a five-year plan to bring state salaries into the top 15 percent nationwide.

Salaries in the UM System were about that high three years ago but have slipped through a series of budget cuts into the 75th percentile.

"We are losing good faculty both current and prospective, in a highly competitive national marketplace," Dr. Langenberg recently told members of the Maryland Higher Education Commission. "And when good faculty go, or choose not to come, the good students and the research grants go with them."

While competition for faculty is a fact of life in academia, Maryland campus officials say they have had to scramble more than usual to attract professors during the past three years.

One campus president told the study committee, which was made up of faculty and administrators, that one-fourth of the university's recruitment efforts were unsuccessful because of low salaries.

Towson State University has lost only a few faculty looking for higher salaries, but the school has had trouble attracting good candidates for some teaching positions, President Hoke L. Smith said.

"A higher number of the candidates who apply, when they find out the salary, they withdraw and don't come for an interview," he said.

"For a long time, our salaries were competitive. Now, people look at what's happening and read the forecast for the future and say, 'Things don't look too bright; I think I'll try another option.' "

The University of Maryland Baltimore County recently had to find a way to keep a top faculty member in the sciences who was weighing an attractive offer from a California public university.

"While we couldn't match the offer, we did give the faculty member an increase and worked to provide additional support on campus," said UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III.

Despite the budget problems of the past three years, the University of Maryland at College Park, the state's flagship campus, has been able to attract some top professors recently, according to President William E. Kirwan.

One economics professor, for example, turned down ` `TC comparable offer from the Johns Hopkins University to come to College Park, Dr. Kirwan said.

While the campus has lost some professors looking for better pay, he said, most have given the university and the state "the benefit of the doubt" that things will get better.

But, Dr. Kirwan said: "If we don't make some real progress in the next couple of years, I think we will see some losses. You can only hold things together for so long."

The system's 11 degree-granting institutions are Bowie State University, Coppin State College, Frostburg State University, Salisbury State University, Towson State University, University of Baltimore, University of Maryland at Baltimore, University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Maryland at College Park, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and University of Maryland University College.

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