Media Release, July 21, 2015
Rutgers Faculty Pose Alternatives to Tuition Hikes
Rutgers faculty were disappointed to read that not only did the Board of Governors decide to raise undergraduate tuition and fees by 2.3% this year, but management blamed the 2% faculty and staff salary increase for the hike.
Nancy Winterbauer, Rutgers’ vice president for budget and financing, argued union contracts that include salary gains are a “major cost driver.”
Faculty have a different take. “The expanding ranks of highly paid managers and the bottomless pit of athletics spending seem far greater cost drivers at Rutgers than faculty and staff who experienced years of wage freezes while tuition continued to rise. Rather than blame faculty and staff, I’d prefer to see management and labor close ranks to advocate for increased state funding the way we did recently to successfully win an addition $1 million after cuts were threatened for the Educational Opportunity Fund that helps low-income students,” Professor Deepa Kumar said.
Negotiated raises over the past four years have totaled 2% (the 2011-2014 contract had no negotiated increases), while tuition and fees increased a total of 7.5% over the same period.
A 2014 audit of Rutgers’ budget found that President Barchi and the next 78 top managers each made more than $250,000, $26 million collectively. Those ranks have since expanded along with their salaries. Also, it found that 44% of athletics spending came directly from student fees (with no opt-out option) and funds reallocated from the university’s academic mission—much higher than any other Big Ten school.
Tuition was raised just one week after the US Dept. of Education listed Rutgers as having one of the highest public university tuitions in the country and it is the only public university on the list of the top twenty institutions receiving the most graduate student loan disbursements.
In contrast to offsetting costs to students, Rutgers AAUP-AFT, the faculty union, was able to bring students, counselors and faculty together with the state’s Democratic leadership in June to advocate for and win an additional $1 million in funding for the $41.4 million Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF). Governor Christie had threatened a $1.6 million cut to the program that helps 20,000 low-income students succeed in college.
“This is a more promising route to funding higher education than offsetting costs to our already indebted students,” said Rutgers AAUP-AFT Executive Director Patrick Nowlan. “Rutgers should look to our colleagues at Penn State who’ve just frozen tuition,” he added.