Posted: Oct 14, 2013 8:32 AM by AP
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Southern employees working in the system office and on the Baton Rouge and Shreveport campuses will receive an extra $1,000 in their November paychecks.
Southern University President Ronald Mason tells The Advocate the single supplemental payment comes at a time when Southern administrators say they've turned a corner after weathering five straight years of state budget cuts.
"There's been a lack of salary adjustments and raises over four years," Mason said. "We have fewer people doing the same level of work without any reward."
Southern, particularly its flagship campus in Baton Rouge which has struggled to attract and keep students, has been hurt by tuition hikes to make up for the budget cuts and tougher admissions standards mandated by the state. Those circumstances have made Southern vulnerable to losing staff as employees left in pursuit of more competitive wages.
"The reality is that we live in a competitive environment where good staff and faculty are mobile," Mason has said. "It's not an entitlement; its about maintaining competitiveness."
The financial relief comes about a month after Baton Rouge employees saw both their counterparts at LSU and their colleagues at Southern's law school, agricultural center and New Orleans campuses get raises.
Mason said the pay hikes are part of a plan to stabilize and rebuild the Southern brand.
Select employees at Southern's Shreveport campus got pay increases in September as Chancellor Ray Belton sought to increase the compensation for adjunct professors and faculty who teach more than their normal course loads.
Following a rare Saturday meeting of Southern's Board of Supervisors, Mason said he hopes the salary increases and supplemental pay will boost morale on all of Southern's campuses.
"This is a small token and a positive sign that things are moving in the right direction," he said.
The money for Saturday's action comes out of a $1.2 million in one-time funding Southern received from Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature this year to stop the bleeding on all of Louisiana's college and university campuses.