TERRE HAUTE, Ind.
Indiana State University President Lloyd Benjamin will face a no-confidence vote from his faculty Thursday amid controversy over a $25,000 pay raise at a time when faculty and staff positions are being eliminated or going unfilled.
Over the protests of students, staff and faculty, the ISU board of trustees unanimously approved the pay hike last week. Benjamin said he would donate the $25,000 toward construction of a new Student Recreation Center.
Moments after the board acted, the ISU Faculty Senate’s executive committee announced a special meeting to consider a resolution of no confidence.
Senate President Steve Lamb says the university community was disappointed with Benjamin’s concern about his own salary at a time when the rest of the university was making financial sacrifices.
“The morale of the university has collapsed. We are in a state of shock,” Lamb says.
The $25,000 increase boosted Benjamin’s salary to $221,000 and represents a 12.7 percent increase. He could receive an additional $11,000 if he meets certain performance incentives.
Mike Alley, the board’s president, says it needed to make Benjamin’s pay competitive or other institutions would try to hire him. ISU is seeking to increase enrollment and begin a major fundraising drive.
Alley acknowledged that it probably was not an opportune time to raise Benjamin’s salary, and added, “but when will there be a good time? … This is a no-win situation.”
Alley appealed to the campus community not to react negatively.
“Dwelling on this issue will only harm us,” he says.
The trustees’ vote came a day after ISU budget officials had informed them the university must make $4 million in cuts next year because of declining enrollment, a reduction in state funding and other factors. Fifty-three unfilled positions, including 15 for faculty, have been permanently eliminated under the budget for the year beginning July 1.
Kelly Hall of the Support Staff Council also spoke out during the meeting, saying Benjamin should not have received a pay raise when others went without one.
“We feel this increase could not come at a more inopportune time. We believe that everyone should be willing to make sacrifices to benefit the university,” Hall said.
— Associated Press
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