Topeka The Kansas Board of Regents endorsed a controversial plan Wednesday that would bring faculty salaries at state universities in line with comparable schools in other states within three years.
The plan requiring legislative approval would earmark revenue from a special tuition increase to provide pay raises for teaching faculty at Kansas University and five other regents' universities.
Throughout the state university system, faculty salaries are about 15 percent below peer averages. KU's faculty wages are 12 percent under peers.
Overall, regents raised 1994-95 tuition by $12.9 million. At the urging of the 1993 Legislature, the board also amended the 1993-94 rate structure by enlarging the scheduled tuition increase by $1 million.
KU Chancellor Gene Budig was an early proponent of directing tuition revenue to faculty salaries.
``This plan gives us hope in our goal of retaining the best and the brightest of our faculty,'' Budig said.
The regents adopted a 1994-95 base tuition increase of 5 percent for resident undergraduates at KU, Kansas State and Wichita State and a base increase of 3 percent at Emporia State, Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State.
All non-resident tuition would go up 13 percent.
The faculty salary portion of the tuition increase would be contingent on passage by the 1994 Legislature of a 3 percent increase in state general fund support for regents' universities.
If lawmakers come through with that level of support, tuition would be increased an additional 4 percent at KU, KSU and WSU and an extra 2 percent at ESU, PSU and FHSU.
Frank Sabatini of Topeka was the only regent to oppose the tuition plan. The need for higher faculty salaries shouldn't drive tuition prices, he said.
``I still think we're on the wrong track here,'' Sabatini said.
He said that substantial rate hikes would price some people out of a college education in Kansas.
"This is going to create a lack of access," Sabatini said. "When you look at the numbers, it's a huge increase. If you're going to raise tuition, you need more financial aid."
Regent Rick Harman of Prairie Village defended the plan.
``The students have said they are willing to pay more for better faculty. They have said we need to catch up,'' Harman said.
It's necessary to bolster salaries with tuition revenue because the Legislature has refused to pay faculty enough, said regent Donald Slawson of Wichita.
``I remain deeply concerned over the level of faculty compensation,'' Slawson said. ``We need to do everything we can to attract, retain the quality faculty that we need.''
Shirley Palmer of Fort Scott, attending her last meeting as chair of the board, said she felt compelled to abandon her goal of avoiding a substantial tuition increase.
"It's kind of a mixed feeling that I changed course, but I feel we have no choice," she said.