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Faculty at Pennsylvania state universities will get raises under a new contract

New contract terms are approved for 5,000 Pennsylvania state university faculty; the new agreement, approved by the state system's governing board, covers faculty at all 14 universities.

The campus of West Chester University, one of 14 in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. System faculty and administration have approved new contract terms.
The campus of West Chester University, one of 14 in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. System faculty and administration have approved new contract terms.Read moreEmily Cohen/for The Inquirer

Faculty at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education won’t get any raises this school year, the first of a new four-year contract unanimously approved by the system’s board of governors Wednesday. But they will get more money in subsequent years.

Under the pact, tenure and tenure-track faculty not yet at the top of the pay scale will see their pay advance by one step on the 13-step salary schedule in the second, third, and fourth years. Those already at the top will get cash payments of 2.5% of their total salary in each of those years.

In addition, all faculty, including adjuncts, will get a 2% pay increase in year three, and a 2.5% increase in year four.

» READ MORE: Pa. state university faculty, administrators reach tentative deal on four-year contract

Under the pact, the starting salary for a full-time instructor is $50,070, with a full-time experienced professor making $120,572 at the top of the scale.

The contract covers about 5,000 faculty at the system’s 14 universities: Cheyney, Clarion, West Chester, Bloomsburg, Millersville, Mansfield, East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, Slippery Rock, Shippensburg, Indiana, Edinboro, California, and Lock Haven.

The contract is estimated to cost the system an additional $21.9 million over four years, said Daniel Greenstein, the system’s chancellor. He said that was about half of the additional cost for the last four-year contract.

Faculty pay for distance education courses will decrease from $25 per student to $15 per student by year three of the pact. Meanwhile, co-pays for visits to health-care specialists will fall from $45 to $30 under the contract. Other health-care terms remain the same.

Kenneth M. Mash, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, called it a fair deal for the 95,000-student system, which has lost almost 20% of its enrollment since 2010.

“We recognize the financial constraints the system is under at the moment,” Mash said.

» READ MORE: Enrollment falls again across Pennsylvania’s state universities

Details of the pact, which were agreed to “in principle” by faculty and the administration in September, were included in an agenda for the board’s meeting.

The agreement followed “interest-based bargaining," which advocates a collaborative approach rather than the exchanging of proposals. It was board chair Cynthia Shapira’s idea, Greenstein said, and he gave the process high marks. Both sides identify interests and the groups work together to achieve them.

“It was probably one of the most rewarding professional experiences I ever had,” Greenstein said.

Talks had started in mid-May.

The system also this week reached a tentative agreement with its coaches. Details of that pact won’t be released until after ratification, officials said.