Northwestern presents 2022-2023 budget report to Faculty Senate, discusses University employment policies


Daily file photo by Victoria Benefield

The Faculty Senate met at Scott Hall on Wednesday to hear from administrators about its progress designing next year’s budget.

Simon Carr and Talia Winiarsky

Provost Kathleen Hagerty and Senior Associate Vice President for Finance Mandy Distel presented the University’s 2022 Financial Report to the Faculty Senate at Wednesday’s meeting.

The University’s net assets decreased from more than $16 billion last fiscal year to $15.4 billion, according to Executive Vice President Craig Johnson’s letter in the report. However, the University ended the fiscal year with positive operating performance of $138.7 million across its schools. 

Following the report, senators discussed the University’s employment policies, salaries and other items related to the budget. 

Hagerty said there are currently about 500 vacancies in staff positions, down from a peak of about 800. According to Senator and RTVF Prof. Kyle Henry, pre-COVID-19 vacancies were usually between 200 and 250 positions. He said one position in the RTVF department turned over twice in a year and that high turnover negatively affects the quality of research.

The Faculty Senate hosted a meeting with the Board of Trustees in November centered on hiring and retention. 

Senate President and Medill Prof. Ceci Rodgers told The Daily other jobs may offer incentives, such as better pay or the ability to work remotely, that a position at NU may not. According to a survey the University issued to employees last March, salary was the most important reason employees left NU.

Rodgers said Wednesday’s meeting was an indication the University has heard the demands and will make changes. However, she said there isn’t an instant solution. 

“It’s just really hard to just jump in and say, ‘Yes, we can just give everybody this money,’” she said.

University President Michael Schill said it is difficult for the University to adjust employee salaries based on the inflation rate. The annual inflation rate was 7.1% in 2022, according to the U.S. Labor Department. 

Schill said that there’s no school that’s keeping up with inflation right now.

Schill added that Northwestern was giving particular attention to salaries, because of a letter the Organization of Women Faculty introduced in the October meeting.

The OWF sent the letter to Schill and Peter Barris, chair of the Board of Trustees, in October. They demanded the University support its faculty better, particularly its female-identifying staff. The letter addressed the University’s decision to try to maintain its budget — including firing staff and freezing salaries — rather than provide equitable salary raises and resources for its employees. The University’s strategy disproportionately affected people already marginalized by their race and gender, the letter said.

“We’re listening, and we are changing,” Schill said. “But you know, again, change may not be fast enough for everyone.”

He added that addressing salary concerns is one of the University’s top priorities. 

Kellogg Prof. Angela Lee said Hagerty and Distel’s report on the budget was useful. She said she enjoyed that members had the opportunity to ask the presenters clarifying questions. 

“We have different backgrounds and different understandings,” Lee said about trying to process the information.

At the meeting, Rodgers also announced the University is currently building three gender-neutral bathrooms.

The bathrooms will be in Annie May Swift Hall, Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center and Fisk Hall. A potential fourth in Norris University Center is awaiting approval. 

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Twitter: @AlbergaSimon

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