Connecticut professors with the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system will receive two 5.5 percent raises in 2019 and 2020, according to a contract summary published by the union representing CSCU professors.
The salary increases come as the Connecticut Board of Regents attempts to mitigate deficits in the CSCU system -- largely related to fringe benefit costs -- which threaten further tuition hikes at Connecticut’s 17 state universities and community colleges.
While professor salaries will increase 7 percent between 2020 and 2021, annual step increases will raise salaries another 4 percent during that time.
The wage contract was one of more than 30 approved as part of the 2017 SEBAC concessions agreement.
According to the contract between the Connecticut Board of Regents and the Connecticut State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors, the maximum full time wages for professors will increase from $117,299 per year in 2018 to $125,896 by 2022.
The 11 percent increase will also be applied to associate and assistant professors, instructors and coaches.
CSU-AAUP members will also receive the $2,000 lump sum bonus this year, which will be pro-rated for part-time employees.
The pay increases come as the CSCU system faces ongoing deficits and student tuition hikes. CSCU had to tap its reserves this year in order to avoid raising tuition.
The CSCU system receives its funding through state appropriations and tuition. Connecticut’s unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liability costs are trickling down the colleges, driving up the cost of employee fringe benefits and leading to tuition increases for CSCU.
The state’s continuing deficits — largely driven by pension, healthcare and debt costs — have also meant cuts to state funding, further burdening students to make up the difference.
The state legislature this year granted CSCU a $16.2 million bailout toward the the fringe benefit costs, but also cut CSCU's block grant by $5 million.
Students at Connecticut colleges and universities faced two consecutive years of tuition increases to make up for the state's fiscal problems and could face future tuition hikes to make up for the wage increases in 2019 and 2020.
The BOR raised tuition in 2016 by 5 percent at Connecticut’s four state universities and 3.5 percent at the state’s community colleges.
2017 brought a tuition increase of 8 percent for state universities and 5 percent for community colleges.
Efforts to cut spending and expenses for the CSCU system have had limited success.
President of the CSCU system Mark Ojakian tried to consolidate the community colleges into one system — an effort which met with significant push-back from community college staff and was ultimately rejected by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
The consolidation effort, however, continues with a new plan, estimated to save the CSCU system $17.3 million by 2021.
The Connecticut professors contract has also come under heavy criticism after media was denied access to the personnel file of a Central Connecticut State University professor with a history of sexual harassment claims made against him by female students.
The union contract supersedes state Freedom of Information laws and allows the school and union to keep professors' personnel files private.
According to the contract, "The entire contents of personnel files shall be considered private and may not be opened to any outside scrutiny unless ordered by a court of law."