LINCOLN -- The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the NU Medical Center lost ground this year in their effort to get faculty salaries caught up to those at their peer institutions, budget officer Chris Kabourek told the NU Board of Regents on Friday.
The University of Nebraska as a whole also has lost purchasing power with its combined tuition and state appropriations over the past several years.
The presentation comes as NU administrators lay the groundwork to request a increase in tuition and in faculty pay when the regents set next year's budget in June.
There have been no general faculty salary increases across the University of Nebraska for the past two years. UNL faculty pay now lags 5.6 percent behind its peers, while Med Center pay is 8.3 percent lower than the average of its peer institutions.
However, with the Legislature poised to approve an essentially flat budget for NU over the next two years, faculty salary increases will require spending cuts elsewhere, tuition increases, or, most likely, a combination of both.
The regents, however, said they wanted more information before they approve higher tuition and pay increases.
Regent Randy Ferlic of Omaha said he wanted to know how much debt students are carrying after they leave college.
Regent Howard Hawks of Omaha asked for data on faculty workloads -- and also on spending required to operate and maintain the many new buildings constructed on NU campuses in recent years.
Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons noted that the cost of living in Nebraska is cheaper than it is at other peer institutions.
Kabourek acknowledged that, noting that even though UNL faculty is paid 5.6 percent less than their peers, it is 6.6 percent cheaper to live in Lincoln. For the Med Center, it is 11.6 percent cheaper to live in Omaha than at its peer institutions -- more than compensating for the 8.3 percent salary lag.
Med Center Chancellor Harold Maurer, however, argued that a low cost of living is not a selling point to attract "star faculty" from around the world.