Moon Township, Pa. – The union that represents faculty at Robert Morris University has agreed to sacrifice more than half the annual raise professors were due under their collective bargaining agreement so the university can boost financial aid to students.
RMU faculty members were set to receive a 2.75 percent salary increase for the 2009-10 academic year. Now the Faculty Federation will forgo more than half that raise – approximately 1.45 percent of their base salary – to allow the university to shift an extra $180,000 into scholarship funds for new and returning students.
That’s on top of an additional $570,000 in financial aid the university expects to generate through a freeze on salaries for all non-faculty staff, including the president and senior administrators. RMU’s total pool of financial aid will be about $16 million in 2009-10. Ninety percent of RMU students receive some sort of financial aid.
The Faculty Federation, Local 3412 of the American Federation of Teachers, represents approximately 145 professors and other instructors at RMU. After RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo announced the staff salary freeze in March, a number of faculty members, including Faculty Federation President Seth Finn, stepped forward to ask how the faculty could help.
“We wanted to make a contribution to the campus community. It is gratifying for us to do something to help students,” said Finn, a professor of communications.
RMU has been cutting spending since the fall, with most departments seeing a 15 percent reduction. The university also has imposed a staff hiring freeze. RMU continues to hire faculty, however, in order to maintain the quality of its academic programs, and the university now has a faculty-to-student ratio of 15 to 1.
Fiscal prudence has allowed the university to continue to move forward with several strategic initiatives, including a new building complex for the School of Business; a nursing simulation lab; and continued renovations to academic buildings and residence halls.
“Our faculty were under no obligation to take this action, which is a testament to how deeply they care for their students,” said Dell’Omo. “Many of our students and their families have been hit hard by the nation’s economic crisis, and our faculty, staff and administrators are making sacrifices to ensure that those students will be able to continue their education.”