Oklahoma owes $150M in pay to college faculty
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma owes $150 million in salary matches for college faculty, about a decade after a push to eliminate the backlog in matching funds.
About 60 percent of the unpaid funds from the endowed chairs program are owed to the Oklahoma State University system, The Oklahoman reported .
The endowed chairs program began in 1988 to support faculty chairs and professorships at Oklahoma’s 25 public colleges and universities.
The Legislature approved a $100 million bond issue in 2008 to catch up on a backlog of donations that were waiting for the state’s matching funds. Lawmakers also placed a $5 million annual limit on the fund, but private donations flooded in before the limit went into effect, bringing the backlog up to $365 million.
OSU President Burns Hargis said the university has to make up the difference to pay faculty who were hired for the endowed chair positions.
“In our case we raised $166 million. There’s still $80 million that has not been matched,” Hargis said.
University of Oklahoma President Jim Gallogly said the lack of funds is impacting the university’s research efforts.
“Because we haven’t been giving a number of faculty raises, we force them to teach summer school in many instances, which means they don’t have time to do the publications they’d like, to spend time in the lab that they would like,” he said.
Hargis said that while the issue hasn’t been addressed recently, it can’t be ignored.
“I know it can’t get fixed in this budget. Maybe a bond issue — I don’t know how we do it,” he said. “But we have to fulfill the promise of Oklahoma.”
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com