Pay increases will go to faculty and staff who make less than $75,000 a year; president awards three extra vacation days at Christmas St. Thomas Newsroom October 29, 2009 Dr. Susan HuberDr. Mark DienhartIn difficult economic times, it can be a challenge to come up with good news – especially the kind of news that benefits many of the people with whom we work.So it is with a certain degree of satisfaction today that we are able to announce two positive news items:Effective Nov. 1, faculty and staff members who make less than $75,000 a year and have been employed at St. Thomas since Feb. 15 will receive a $500 pay increase. The increases will be added to base salaries and will begin to show up in the Nov. 6 checks for faculty and exempt staff and the Nov. 20 checks for hourly staff.Father Dennis Dease has decided to give staff members three extra days of paid vacation around the Christmas holidays – Dec. 28-30. Combined with four holidays (Dec. 24-25 and Dec. 31-Jan. 1) and two weekends, staff members will be off 11 straight days heading into 2010.Pay increasesLast February, when the Board of Trustees approved the university’s 2009-2010 budget, we didn’t know if we would be able to deliver a pay increase this fall because of the uncertain impact of the recession on our budget. We budgeted $700,000 for increases – $500,000 for wages and $200,000 for associated fringe benefits – but said we wouldn’t be able to make any decisions until we saw if fall enrollment met projections.Stable enrollment this semester gave us enough assurance to announce earlier this month that we would award the budgeted increases. The Human Resources Department consulted with the Academic and Administrative Leadership Group and the President’s Staff on how the increases might be awarded and if there should be a differential based on income levels.There was consensus that it would be fairest to give pay increases to faculty and staff who made less than $75,000 because the economic downtown likely has affected them the most. For faculty, this will take the form of an equity increase. Of our 1,336 employees, 1,033 will receive raises – or 77 percent. Adjunct faculty, temporary employees and union employees are not eligible for pay increases. Increases for part-time staff members will be based on their full-time equivalence (FTE).At a time when many Minnesota colleges and universities have frozen salaries, we are thankful that our budget situation allows us to move forward with increases for the majority of St. Thomas staff and faculty.Extra vacation days at ChristmasLast year, Father Dease awarded two extra vacation days before Christmas, allowing staff members to be off all of Christmas week. It was a popular decision, to be sure, reflecting his appreciation for everyone’s hard work and acknowledging the impact of the recession and stock market crisis.The reasons for the extra three vacation days this year are similar. We know how much hard work it took to reach our enrollment goals this fall, and we join Father Dease in applauding everyone for good performances in difficult times, which are likely to continue into the next fiscal year. By being closed for 11 consecutive days, we also should be able to realize some cost savings by turning down the thermostats in most of our buildings.Some employees, including Public Safety officers, Physical Plant workers, IRT server administrators and Food Service workers, will have to work Dec. 28-30 because they are classified as “essential” employees and are needed on campus. Other employees, including Development staff members and coaches, also may need to work on those days. All of these individuals will get three extra days off as well, and will need to use them by the end of the fiscal year (June 30).Department heads must notify the Human Resources Department by Dec. 8 if they have essential employees who must work on Dec. 28, 29 or 30. Over the subsequent weeks, but no later than Jan. 15, department heads should notify Human Resources when those employees will take their alternative days off. We want to assure all staff members that they will get three days off, including any part-time or temporary employees whose normal days off are Monday and Tuesday.