Updated: The story originally said the regents recommend 50 percent of college budgets should be spent on instructional staff salaries. The regents actually recomment 50 percent be spent on instruction, which also includes operating costs.
For many of the Montana State University-Northern faculty who have been concerned about their pay level, their union’s magazine offered an interesting read last month.
In the March 2012 issue of the National Education Association magazine Higher Education Advocate, titled “The Salary Issue, ” the magazine ran a 30-page table of colleges across the country and the average salary at each school.
Northern salaries are the lowest in the state and are among the lowest in the region and across the country.
The average salary educational staffers at Northern, according to the chart, is $56,400. The University of Montana-Western professors average salary is $60,400. In Bozeman, professors make an average of $82,800.
These figures come from a 2010 study out of the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.
The numbers were a stark reminder for Northern’s faculty union president John Snider, who has displeased with the situation for years.
It doesn’t help that the table also shows the average faculty salary fell 3.2 percent from the last study, the largest drop of any Montana school. Bozeman fell the second furthest, 2.3 percent.
Since being chosen as the union president earlier this year, Snider has made wage increase a personal priority, one he intends to take to the Board of Regents at a meeting in Havre next month.
Northern’s Chancellor James Limbaugh already acknowledged the importance of the problem after the Chancellor’s Forum explaining the budget process last month.
“The salaries here are low, ” Limbaugh said. “I want to do everything I can to fix that because it not only affects the good people that are here now, but it affects our ability to attract more good people. ”
The regents have also chimed in, although a bit indirectly.
During the chancellor’s budget forum, Northern’s Business Director Sue Ost explained that the regents have suggested that Montana schools spend 50 percent of their budgets on instruction. Northern spends only 38 percent.
Limbaugh has said that the school needs to get a better grasp on where it is and where it is going before many decisions are made, which is why the school is holding a Chancellor’s Inauguration and wrapping up it’s visioning process this month.
Snider said he thinks that hiring fewer administrative office staff and spending more on people who teach classes might be a step in the right direction.
Average yearly tuition,
|University of Montana||$64,734||$5,476||19|
|Montana State University||$64,691||$6,168||17|