Despite wrangling with what officials deemed its "worst financial crisis in history," the University of California announced Wednesday that it has allocated $140 million to use for faculty pay raises.
According to UC Spokesman Steve Montiel, the money will be given across the school system to non-union employees who earn less than $200,000. The 10-campus UC system had previously undergone a four-year pay freeze, which was lifted Wednesday in conjunction with the school's announcement.
In a letter to chancellors, UC President Mark Yudof said only the newest and highest-paid faculty would not be eligible for the raises. The Contra Costa Times reports:
Faculty members, who previously were eligible for merit bumps only once every four years, will all receive performance reviews in the coming year. Any professor receiving a positive review will get a 3-percent raise.
"Fairness dictates that we take this step," Yudof wrote in his letter, citing competition from other institutions seeking to recruit some of the UC system's leading staff members. "One purpose of this pool is to give you a tool in your efforts to recruit and, most importantly, retain leading faculty members, who increasingly are being courted by competing institutions."
UC officials explained that union employees will not be eligible for pay raises because such staff members frequently receive negotiated raises as a result of their contracts, the Associated Press reported.
The pay increases come on the heels of massive cuts to the UC budget, which state lawmakers slashed by $650 million last month. The UC system has employed a number of solutions to remedy its budget shortfall, including the increased recruitment of out-of-state applicants and a series of sharp tuition increases that has drawn the ire of students across the state.
Some UC students questioned the timing of the raises as compared to the recent hike in tuition. ""Is this where our fee increase went to?" Claudia Magana, a senior at UC Santa Cruz, told the Chronicle. "I wouldn't want to say they don't deserve it, but I think it's questionable that all of a sudden there's money for this, but there's no money for our services being cut."
The Chronicle reports that about two-thirds of UC employees earn less than $80,000. According to the Los Angeles Times, roughly 78,000 of the 103,631 total UC staffers will be eligible for pay raises.