Mercyhurst staff may see a pay raise for the first time in the last three years. Surprisingly, this comes following 30 professors being laid off or retiring just last year.
“There was a reduction in staff and certain colleges felt it more than others, but that allowed us to use those dollars on other places, like on students. We can use those dollars to make your housing more pleasant. We could keep growing and expanding like we had done or we could invest in what we have,” English professor and Faculty Senate President Joanne Hosey-McGurk, Ph.D., said.
It is never an easy decision to cut faculty members and many talented professors left the university, she said.
“We don’t like to lose anyone but sometimes those hard decisions have to be made to keep going. It’s not a desirable thing but sometimes a necessary step,” Hosey-McGurk said.
These and other decisions made by the university seem to have freed up funds to be used, possibly for pay raises for the staff.
“As an institution, you want to let people know that their work is appreciated. Here and in other capitalist societies we do that with more money,” Hosey-McGurk said.
The Mercyhurst staff works incredibly hard not just for the money involved but also for the students, she said.
“Everyone here, pay raise or not, comes in to do the best for our students and give them the quality education that they come here for,” Hosey-McGurk said.
“I’m sure that every institution likes to believe that its faculty is completely dedicated and Mercyhurst faculty definitely is, but we do need to be able to make a living,” Hosey-McGurk said.
Education is not known to be a wealthy field. However, each year the cost of living increases. Without a pay raise this can put strain on a family that is counting on the income to make ends meet.
This problem is not unique to Mercyhurst.
“Institutions of higher education are facing budget shortfalls.,” said Hosey-McGurk. “The number of students each year is declining which means there are less dollars flowing. The baby boomers boomed.”
The tri-state area of Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York has 707 colleges that are part of the Council of Independent Colleges. There are more colleges in the area that are not part of the council and all compete for a population of students that is getting smaller.
“Colleges are working to live within our means. We are making course corrections that will hopefully be able to give raises to all employees not just faculty,” said Hosey-McGurk. “I think that everyone is on the same page that if there is room in the budget, yay raises for everyone.”