EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University cut the salaries of faculty and staff at the start of the pandemic to offset $300 million in expected losses.
As it turned out, the university's financial situation was far better than expected, and now professors want their money back.
"Our goal is to engage with the administration and executive leadership to make faculty whole. That means for restoration of lost compensation, lost retirement and reinstitution of merit raise," said Karen Kelly-Blake, chair of the university's Faculty Senate
MSU reversed the wage cuts over the summer, but professors want the money they would have earned if the cuts hadn't happened.
Both benefits and salaries were cut last year.
"As a result of the COVID 19 pandemic impact on the university's budget, the university implemented a temporary salary reduction for all executive managers that took effect in May of 2020," said MSU spokesperson, Dan Olsen. "They we also implemented a wage reduction for non-union faculty and academic staff in September of 2020."
Olsen asaid the wage reduction ranged from 1 percent to 8 percent based on salary, but didn't impact those earning less than $50,000 dollars.
Earlier this month, the university notified faculty and staff of a 2 percent increase in their base pay. However, the Faculty Senate believes that is not enough and passed a resolution this month calling for retroactive restoration of the money they lost
"With new data, we understand that those impacts were not as devastating as first forecast," Kelly-Blake said.
Jack Lipton, a professor of neuroscience and member of the faculty senate, said the university expected to lose $43 million dollars in state appropriations and $63 million dollars in tuition.
"They received that $43 million they expected. They received $7 million more in tuition than they expected. And they received $87 million in COVID relief funds separate from the $55 million that they received for direct student assistance," Lipton said.
A petition asking for back pay for faculty and staff has more than 1,000 signatures, so far.