Winter brings wage freezes for Faculty, Staff and Administration.

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Saint Louis University will not be increasing salaries for faculty, staff or administration, except for those who have contractually obligated raises.

Interim Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, David Heimburger, said the University was very mindful of the financial situations of students and their families when setting next year’s rates.

President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. wrote a message to all SLU students, faculty, staff and trustees saying, “For example, this year we spent $3.6 million above the $112.7 million we had previously budgeted to meet the financial needs of our students and their parents.”

The University maintains that the bottom line of family budgets weighed heavily in the decision-making process.

Another major reason for the wage freeze was the increasing uncertainty of SLU’s health care system, SLUCare.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care reform plan passed by Congress in 2009, will begin to be implemented at SLUCare in the next few years.

Due to the new legislation, SLU must begin to deal with any ambiguities ofthe new laws.

Regarding the health care legislation, the President’s message said, “Additionally, the potential for significant upheaval to the health care industry through legislative or legal actions remains a concern.”

Heimburger also spoke to the importance of SLUCare, adding that the physicians’ practice contributes about 30 percent to the University’s overall budget.

“Our clinical practice is dedicated to our mission, so we don’t have the same revenue stream coming in that an operation without the same mission does [like University of Missouri or University of Missouri-St. Louis],” Heimburger said.

According to the mission statement on SLU’s website, “[The University] Fosters programs that link University resources to local, national and international communities in collaborative efforts to alleviate ignorance, poverty, injustice and hunger; extend compassionate care to the ill and needy; and maintain and improve the quality of life for all persons [in support of its mission].”

The ambiguities of the economy was also a factor in the decision making process.

Heimburger said uncertainties in the U.S. and European economies were other factors that the administration kept in mind when building the budget.

These uncertainties have affected the entire economy, as seen by the Federal Reserve’s statement today that they would keep interests rates low for the foreseeable future.

These uncertainties led to the recommendation to freeze wages for the majority of employees for the upcoming fiscal year.

“The decision [to hold salaries] was not easy, but it was necessary to prevent dramatic cuts in the future,” Heimburger said.

He noted that Washington University had a salary freeze two years ago and that the University of Missouri St. Louis had not given merit increases during the past two years.

“This is not an uncommon practice,” Heimburger said.

Faculty reaction to the announcement last week was mixed, but none of the faculty members who were contacted wanted to go on record against the University’s plan.

“We hope that the issue of faculty and staff compensation will be addressed in the University’s new Strategic Plan,” said English Department Chair, Sara van den Berg said. “We understand the many economic challenges that face the University, our students and their families. We strive to provide an outstanding education for SLU students and want to work with the Administration to make compensation a priority in the years ahead.”

Student reactions, in comparison, were largely against the wage freeze.

“If tuition is being raised as much as it is, why exactly are teachers and faculty members’ salaries not going up as well?” John Cook School of Business First-Year, Stacey Tucker, said,

“I think that, next to the students, the administration’s number one concern should be the teachers, because without the teachers and their hard work—and they’re already probably underpaid—most people would agree there is no university” Jordan Slavik, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said. “People come here to get taught by teachers, and not giving them a raise when they clearly deserve a raise is unacceptable.”

Some students had a more nuanced view of the issues at hand.

“It’s a complicated issue—a balance between students paying more and teachers getting paid what they more than they deserve,” College of Arts and Sciences Senior Alex Salazar said.