Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013
By WALTER C. JONES
Morris News Service
ATLANTA – The lack of faculty pay raises has made Georgia professors the targets of other states’ recruiting, University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby told lawmakers Tuesday.
“Other states don’t come after our weakest faculty. They come after our very best,” he said.
He was responding to questions from members of the House and Senate appropriations committees following a presentation on the University System’s budget for the next fiscal year.
Gov. Nathan Deal is recommending lawmakers give the system an increase of $42 million, the result of adding money to accommodate more students and subtracting 3 percent like every other state agency.
Of the $42 million increase, half will go to cover benefits for employees and retirees, notes University System financial officer John Brown.
“It’s not all free money. It’s just keeping up with what’s already out there,” he said.
The governor disagreed with some of the system’s spending requests. He wants to cut nearly $3 million from the system’s maintenance budget instead of the nearly $9 million increase administrators requested. He nixed Armstrong Atlantic State University’s satellite campus in Hinesville to serve Fort Stewart soldiers despite that city putting up $6 million of the cost. And he is calling for zero funding to equip seven buildings that are under construction at various campuses across the state like the veterinary medicine building at the University of Georgia.
“We hate the notion that we’re waiting on equipment,” Brown said.
Most of the committee members’ questions focused on faculty salaries, which haven’t increased in five years.
UGA salaries now rank ninth highest out of a dozen schools it compares itself to. The state’s two-year colleges had ranked first in 2000 but are not 11th.
Huckaby warned that freezing wages not only harms morale but also invites competing states to recruit from Georgia schools.
“What it does is send the message to other parts of the country that Georgia is a good place to come. We have a fertile field,” he said.
The committees were in the first of three days of hearings with witnesses from the two-dozen largest state agencies. The rest of the General Assembly is in recess this week.