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EXODUS OF N.D. PROFS IS NOT JUST ABOUT HIGHER PAY ITS ALSO ABOUT WORKING CONDITIONS

(Exodus Of N.D. Profs For Higher Pay Prompts Salary Discussions NDSU Prof Doubled Pay By Taking Job In California )

When Patrick Hoggard left North Dakota State University last year, he was a full professor of chemistry with a salary of $44,000. He landed at Santa Clara University in California with a salary of $80,000.

The 14-year North Dakota university educator says money wasn't the main factor in his decision to leave. His wife, Eugenie, has an asthma condition that made it difficult to live in North Dakota during the summer.

"It helped us to make the move, though," he said of his salary at the private California university.

Hoggard, a California native, came to NDSU in 1981 as an assistant professor position for a salary of $23,500.

Lost competitiveness

In the early 1980s, North Dakota's colleges and universities offered competitive salaries, said Laura Glatt, the North Dakota State University System's vice chancellor for academic affairs. But she said that has changed.

Gov. Ed Schafer doesn't question the value of higher education, but he does question its appetite.

Schafer said the state cannot afford the $100 million increase requested in the university system's "needs-based" budget for the next two-year budget cycle.

Glatt knows how it plays on the prairie when someone gripes about a $40,000 paycheck.

Others say, "Gee, $40,000 sounds pretty good. I wonder what they're complaining about," Glatt said.

Losing grants

When an institution is unable to keep or recruit faculty members, it also loses grants that those faculty members attract, Glatt said. Market pressure for top candidates is even greater in areas such as computer science and engineering, she added.

"In those areas, universities compete not only against one another but against business and industry, " Glatt said.

The university system's Faculty Compensation Committee is recommending 3 percent across-the-board increases for each of the next two years and an additional 5 percent "adjustment for market, equity, performance and compression" that could be distributed at the discretion of each school.

Cost of living

Richard Rathge, NDSU's representative on that committee, believes the North Dakota "cost-of-living" argument -- that low salaries are understandable, given how inexpensive it is to live in the state -- has been used to hold salaries down.

"We're not living in a cheap area," Rathge said. "We're average nationwide for cost of living. Just look what it costs you to heat your house here, what it costs you to travel."

Schafer said tough decisions -- such as UND's move to eliminate 83 programs that annually graduate nine students or less -- will stretch available dollars.

"My role is to say, `This is what to expect on the top line,'" Schafer said. "The university system isn't run out of the governor's office. The board has to generate the design that makes it work."

Habit of pay raises

Patricia Hill, a member of the state Board of Higher Education, said North Dakota's salary predicament can be traced to its habit of granting across-the-board increases.

"If 3 or 4 percent budget increases is all we're going to see, then we have to set some priorities," Hill said.

"Like any other business or organization, we have innovators and entrepreneurs who are out-performing others. I think that's how we'll approach salaries in the future."

Gov. Ed Schafer said the state cannot afford the $100 million increase requested in the university system's "needs-based" budget for the next two-year budget cycle.

Grand Forks Herald, November 19, 1996