This letter to the editor, submitted by Derek Benjamin, originally appeared in the April 7 Index.
Many students may not be aware of this, but the faculty at our university are paid the second lowest salaries in the state.
The rationale behind such meager compensation stems from a tradeoff brought on by budget cuts forced upon the university by the Republican-controlled Missouri legislature. Our administration has focused on providing more scholarships to students and more research grants to them. Additionally, the administration found it appropriate to raise its own salaries in order to “bring them up to market.” Both of these allocations of funds may seem like good uses of our resources. I beg to differ. It is important to invest in our students and our administration, but this should not occur at the expense of our faculty.
The issue of faculty salaries goes to the heart of what sort of institution we hope to have. Truman’s salaries are no longer competitive. The effects of this will be felt in the near future, if they have not been already. Many of our best faculty will be retiring soon, and we need to ensure that our institution recruits replacements that are just as stellar. However, how can we expect to do so when we are not providing competitive compensation? Potential hires may already be discouraged by the location of Truman. Why would they want to work here if the salaries are subpar? While I do recognize that our university has made great hires recently (I, for one, can attest to this in my own department of CML), we have to keep doing so.
Truman, it is time to decide what kind of university we intend to be. Do we want to live up to our nickname of the “Harvard of the Midwest,” or do we want to devolve into just another mediocre public university?