USF endowment funds should go to faculty raises

It is not the best time for USF to issue a call to arms on fundraising, but the University did just that at an invitation-only kickoff event for donors, potential donors and alumni Tuesday.

The University is pushing forward with the “USF: Unstoppable Campaign” to raise $600 million for endowment funds through the USF Foundation. They are determined to reach this goal, despite the fact that the Foundation has about $360 million in funds as of June, down from about $498.2 million last year, according to a Foundation report.

Only about $286.8 million of those funds is for the endowment, while about $73.2 million goes to the Foundation’s operating pool.

While pushing for endowment should never stop, it is too ambitious to hope to double its funds, especially in this economy.

“You can never take a break from fundraising,” said Joel Momberg, chief executive officer of the USF Foundation. “You can never get the momentum back if you were to decide that we’re just going to stop.”

The Foundation should take a more realistic approach. The money they do raise should give faculty a priority.

According to the campaign report, the funds will be spent this way: $157.5 million in capital; $147.2 million in academic achievements; $129.95 million in scholarships; $118 million in faculty, like chairs and professorships; and $47.35 million in miscellaneous funds.

Excluding miscellaneous funds, the faculty will receive the smallest share of the potential $600 million. Faculty deserve a larger share, and a top spending priority should be raises.

The Foundation’s fundraising campaign started nearly four years ago, yet during those four years USF faculty have received no substantial pay raises. According to the United Faculty of Florida USF Chapter newsletter, salaries rose 2.1 percent from 2006 to 2007, which was less than the rate of inflation.

The administration has approved another 2 percent pay raise for this year. As inflation and the cost of living rise, such a small raise will be worth less each year.

The faculty and administration are also involved in intense negotiations over bonuses for this year.

According to a staff e-mail sent by Bill McClelland, president of Local 3342 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents nearly 2,000 USF staff, the administration is proposing small performance-based bonuses
ranging from $500 to $1000.

If USF even came close to meeting its $600 million goal, there would be no reason to withhold raises. If this problem is not addressed, an increasing number of faculty members will head to better-paying schools.