University President John J. DeGioia announced revisions to his financial plan for the upcoming fiscal year in a letter to the Georgetown community March 14 after receiving backlash in response to a proposal that would have frozen pay raises for staff while maintaining increases for faculty.

The new plan, which reflected recommendations by University Provost Robert Groves and the university’s executive vice presidents, called for a 0.75 percent increase to the staff merit increase pool, a six-month delay in the scheduled faculty salary plan increases, a continuation of the salary raise freeze for DeGioia, the executive vice presidents, the senior vice presidents and deans, three additional paid vacation days between Christmas and New Year’s Day and no increase to parking and daycare fees.

“Taken as a whole, these measures provide for a fairer and more balanced approach to staff and faculty compensation in a highly constrained economic environment and keep us on track to significantly improve the university’s financial performance,” the recommendation team wrote in its March 13 memorandum to DeGioia.

In contrast, the original proposal called for a full raise freeze for staff, with both tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty remaining eligible for merit-based pay increases. The financial plan still includes provisions to reduce expenditures in non-academic university departments by 1 percent annually, decrease projected compensation growth by $7 million and increase graduate student enrollment.

The financial plan ultimately seeks to eliminate the university’s $19 million deficit over the next five years.

“We have taken a conservative approach to allocating resources ensuring that we focus our attention on critical competitive issues such as access and affordability, faculty and staff salary plans, vital academic capital projects and investments in innovative programs,” DeGioia wrote in the letter. “We are facing a challenging environment in higher education, which impacts the financial decisions our community must make.”

DeGioia added that the federal sequestration threatens millions of dollars in possible funding.

“We have been working to identify ways to eliminate our operating deficit, ensure Georgetown’s competitiveness and maintain our commitment to access and affordability,” DeGioia wrote.

However, some faculty members are still unhappy with the revised proposal.

School of Foreign Service Faculty Chair David Edelstein acknowledged that the 0.75 percent pay raise for staff does not keep up with inflation.

“A 0.75 percent pay raise for anybody is, in real terms, a pay cut,” Edelstein said. “I don’t think that is a situation anybody wishes anybody was in. All of the faculty think that our staff work awfully hard.”

Edelstein acknowledged that these efforts attempted to decrease the inequality between treatment of faculty and staff.

“There was some effort in the new plan to introduce some money back into the staff pool, but they did it in a way that, yes, introduces some money back … but only in a way that draws more attention to the fact that this inequality still persists.”

Additionally, Edelstein emphasized that some of the university’s concessions were empty gestures.

“What they were trying to do was they were trying to find ways that they can give things to staff that frankly don’t cost them all that much,” Edelstein said. “Truth be told, the university is basically always closed between Christmas and New Year’s. DeGioia announces in the fall that we’re making those special holiday days, and the university closes. I suspect that gesture, while appreciated … probably everybody noticed it was pushing against an open door.”

But German department Chair Peter Pfeiffer, who had submitted a letter opposing the raise freeze to the university’s board of directors, said that the discussion process reflected a willingness to listen to faculty and staff input.

“I think this shows the campus community can come together in positive ways that include everyone,” Pfeiffer said. “It may have been a process that was flawed early on, but the way the campus has responded since then, including the response by the administration, has been actually a very positive sign.”

Edelstein agreed that the revision represents a good faith attempt by the administration to address a perplexing financial problem.

“I don’t know what I would have done differently. It’s a really difficult puzzle. I don’t know that they got it right, but I don’t know that I could get it more right in a way that wouldn’t anger the people they’ve angered,” he said.

Pfeiffer agreed.

“I think it shows that there is a more equitable way of … [assuring] the university is financially stable and is prepared for some eventualities that may be coming down the pipe,” Pfeiffer said. “I think everybody can live with this, and I think it’s not the best of both worlds, but it’s a better response than what we had before.”

Until the university releases its budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the effects of this revised plan will remain uncertain.

“Full budgets haven’t come out yet, and everyone’s waiting to see what those will look like,” Edelstein said. “All [of the plan] adds up to revenues and expenditures … no one knows what the budget looks like yet, so it’s hard to speculate what the effects will be.”

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