By William P. Thompson, PNT Staff Writer
Eastern New Mexico University employees and faculty will earn at least 5.5 percent more for the 2006-2007 school year.
The board of regents approved adding at least 1 percent to a state-funded 4.5 percent pay raise for ENMU faculty and made the 5.5 percent total raise effective for all university employees.
Jean Ornelas, a faculty member of 22 years in the music department, was happy with the news.
“I’m so glad the (non-faculty) staff is getting the raise,” Ornelas said, “and we (the faculty and staff) haven’t gotten a raise this big in ages. The raise is usually 2 percent to 3 percent. I will use the extra money to pay bills and to pay for gas.”
Scott Smart, ENMU vice president of business affairs, said the university always tries to add another 1 percent to the state pay increase.
“We do it when we can afford it,” Smart said. “We had $1.5 million from enrollment growth in the past year, so we wanted to put a portion of that back into employee wages.”
Smart said the university is also trying to get employee salaries closer to those at other similar-sized U.S. universities.
“I think we’re at about 85 percent of what our peer institutions pay,” he said. “The regents realized our salaries were lagging, and we had the funds to add to the salary increase.”
While all ENMU employees get at least a 5.5 percent raise in 2006-2007, some professors will get more.
“A faculty member in business and economics would get a higher percentage raise than an English professor based upon comparable salaries in those disciplines in the corporate world,” Smart said.
Charles Reader, an administrative office coordinator at ENMU’s Golden Library, said the extra money in his paycheck will help him out with his daily commute from Clovis.
“I had heard it (the pay raise) was a possibility, but we (staff members) are always skeptical until it’s actually approved,” Reader said. “We’re happy. The extra money will help me pay for gas.”
Lilah Gainey, a librarian at Golden Library, said she had estimated she would need at least $500 in extra pay to break even next year. She said her pay raise will net her an extra $2,200 in 2006-2007.
“The raise is good news especially with high medical expenses,” Gainey said, “and with high gasoline prices.”
Smart said medical premiums through the university’s medical plan (the New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority) are going up 11.5 percent for university employees in 2006-2007, and it’s a good thing the salary increase was higher this year than in recent years.
Ornelas said she has received a similar pay raise “maybe five times in the past 22 years.”