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Letter to the Editor

November 9, 2010

By Sharon Hahs
On November 9, 2010

Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor,


The October 26 issue of the Independent leads with the story "Faculty and Staff vs. Administration" which focuses on the contract negotiations between the University and the UPI. This is, of course, a central event in the life of the University at this moment. I would expect the Independent to pay close attention to these negotiations—and it has.


This article appears to be based on information provided by the UPI chapter president, Dr. Schuepfer. Although I continue to be impressed by the balance and professionalism the Independent brings to this and other issues of importance to students, this particular article contains a number of errors of fact which I feel I have a duty to address. They are listed below.


Quote: " . . . the faculty of Northeastern Illinois University, who haven't had a raise in nearly three years."

"Not getting raises, but increasing the workload for the last three years, . . ."

"At the same time, for the last three years the faculty has received zero percent increase."


Fact: Faculty received a 3% salary increase for 2008-2009. They received no salary increase during 2009-2010 because no new contract was agreed to, and the salary component of the current contract had expired. The workload component remains in effect until a new agreement is reached. Salary increases for the current year, 2010-2011, are a part of the bargaining process. Likewise, since there has been no new contract,

workload remains under the terms of the current contract. Consequently, workload has not increased "for the last three years." In fact, workload has not changed since 2004.


The persistent assertion in fliers and elsewhere, and implied in this article, is that the administration is opposed to salary increases for people employed at the University. This is not so. In fact, just within the last couple of weeks contract negotiations with two of the four unions scheduled for negotiations this year were completed, each with a provision for a base salary increase. The administration is not opposed to salary increases.


Quote: ". . . newly accepted freshmen of NEIU will have to pay the severe tuition hike."


Fact: I discussed tuition in my President's Pen article in the same issue in the context of the claim in fliers and elsewhere that tuition has increased 40%. I said, "Student tuition has not increased by 40%. New students in the fall of 2010 are paying 6% higher tuition than new students who entered in the fall of 2009. The fall 2009 new students

paid 10% higher than those who entered the fall of 2008. All new students receive four years of guaranteed tuition rates." Although NEIU remains one of the most affordable state universities, I realize that is small comfort to those who struggle to pay for their education. Tuition for fall 2011 has not yet been set. We are working to minimize the increase. The first formal discussion on fall 2011 tuition will be this month. After

presentation to the Board of Trustees for discussion, tuition proposals will be discussed with the SGA. This will be followed by approval in February by the Board.


Quote: " . . . the administrative team has been insisting on changing the language of the contract . . . . For instance, a big disagreement has been the professional discipline language."

Fact: There are 38 articles in the UPI contract. Many have been changed by agreement of both parties. For the professional discipline language, it is the UPI, not the administrative team, that is insisting on a language change.


Quote: "You are responsible for your own morale."


Fact: The article reproduced the flier depicting me scolding a small child. The words quoted above are presented as a direct quote; the State of the University Address is referenced as the source. What I actually said is, "At the risk of really ending on a bad note, I want to make one more comment. I want to be respectful that people feel demoralized, but I also want to remind you that we are each responsible in an individual

and a collective way for the morale of our [own] person and of the colleagues that we work with. So, I would like to encourage you to keep that in mind and that we all try to work together to improve morale. It is not to say that it isn't low. It's to say that it is a collective responsibility to make it better." You may check the DVD of the State of the University event that is available in the library.


Quote: [With regard to President Hahs' earnings] "This is almost $70,000 above the median for public universities. . ."


Fact: This calculation results from a basic, fundamental error. We have all heard you must compare apples to apples and not apples to oranges. Here the comparison is apples to apples plus oranges. Each year the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) assembles national salary data. Currently the median salary (middle value)

for presidents at universities like NEIU (public Masters degree granting institutions) is $234,860. When Dr. Schuepfer calculated the difference between the median and the NEIU president's salary, she added in the housing allowance and the use of the car the University provides me. The AAUP uses salary only (not housing and other benefits).

Comparing salary only (apples to apples), my salary is $26,140 above the median, not "almost $70,000."


Quote: "In our case though, President Hahs' salary is 3.74 times greater than NEIU's tenured professors' salaries."


Fact: This is also from the salary discussion, using AAUP data. Currently the national ratio of average presidents' salaries to average tenured professors' salaries is 2.89. When Dr. Schuepfer calculated the ratio for Northeastern, she repeated the error, discussed above, relative to the president's salary. Thus the ratio is 3.29, not 3.74. Further, it is not

3.29 times greater than professors' salary, but simply 3.29 times the professors' salary. These salary items can be verified through the NEIU Office of Institutional Research, or the AAUP directly. Beyond this, the Board of Trustees sets my salary and has chosen a set of Illinois peers for comparison, not national data. Our goal remains to move all employee groups' salaries closer to those of their appropriate peers.


Thank you for the opportunity to provide this response.


Best wishes,

Sharon Hahs


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