Sue Thomas delivers All-University Address

University President Sue Thomas, in an address to faculty, staff and students discussed major challenges and successes of the University. During her address, she remarked on several major recent successes the University has accomplished while also addressing work the University must complete to meet the challenges facing higher education.

Thomas said the University is in a solid position financially. The University has relatively low debt, with most of it because of residence hall upgrades and environmental improvements. Additionally, external parties have reviewed the finances of the University and found them to be in good shape.

Thomas said the University had raised staff and faculty salaries three times since January 2022. First, in January 2022, all full-time faculty members received a raise of at least $1,000, with some qualifying for a raise of $6,100. For staff, the goal was to provide the lowest-paid staff members with the highest percentage raises. All full-time exempt and salaried/comp time eligible staff received an annual increase of $1,760.  Non-exempt staff received a raise of 85₵ per hour. Salary increases for part-time staff were prorated. In July 2022, further increases were made with lower-income staff members being targeted. Those making under $40,000 a year received a raise of $1,500 and those earning between $40,000 and $50,000 a year received an increase of $1,000. Non-exempt hourly staff increases were prorated and those making under $18.50 an hour received a $1.00 increase and those making over $18.50 received a 75₵ increase.

A third increase occurred during January 2023, with non-tenure faculty receiving at least a $1,000 raise with some receiving a $6,600 one. Tenured and tenure-track faculty received at least a $1,000 raise with some receiving up to $3,000. Finally, staff received a three percent raise with those who have 10 or more years of service receiving an additional 10 cents along with this.

Thomas said parental leave has increased to seven weeks for faculty and staff who have recently experienced the birth of a child, adopted a child, or are caring for one as foster guardians. Thomas said this is one of the most generous parental leave programs in the state. Faculty who have worked at the University for over 20 years received an increase in vacation time, from 20 days to 24.

Thomas said two major campus upgrades are underway, with the Kirk and Greenwood buildings set to be improved. Money provided by the state and federal governments covers most of the cost of these projects.

Thomas said the University has faced enrollment declines for more than a decade. Reasons for this include external factors such as the declining number of college students and societal attitudes that are becoming less favorable about the value of a college education.

Thomas said returning to previous enrollment levels is not possible given the current reality, and the University should determine what the right size is for Truman given this reality.  Additionally, Thomas said the University had adopted an elitist mindset that resulted in students self-selecting out of applying to Truman. Thomas said the University needed to define “smart students” as those who are able to be successful at Truman. Ultimately, the goal is to set an enrollment number that works for Truman.