Employees of the University System of Georgia—including those who work at UGA—won’t see merit raises until at least fiscal year 2014, and even then it’s no guarantee, USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby told the crowd Oct. 5 at the Statewide Staff Council Conference on campus.
“The governor, the legislature and everyone would like to offer a pay raise in January, but frankly I’m not optimistic the funds are going to be there. Our focus for the budget in January is to get our formula funding fully funded this time because it has such an impact on our academic mission,” Huckaby said. “I would think our earliest chance for a pay raise package would be in FY ’14 and even then it’s going to be problematic because of all the uncertainty we’re seeing at this point. And that’s compounded by the fact that to give a 1 percent pay raise to public school teachers, university employees and state employees costs $125 million, so to give a 4 percent pay raise costs half a billion dollars.”
As the keynote speaker at the conference, Huckaby, who took office July 1, talked about what he plans to focus on during his tenure.
“The environment in which we are now is likely going to continue. If you’re waiting for things to go back to normal, you’re going to be waiting a long time…We need to focus on three major themes. One, we have got to improve our performance. We’ve been hearing that from almost every corner,” he said. “…My second theme is that we can’t do it alone. More than ever we’ve got to be in partnerships with other education entities in the state: K–12, the technical college system and our private college cohorts as well.”
Huckaby also expressed concern about the increasing criticism he has heard about the value being placed on higher education in the U.S.
“Hardly a day goes by when I don’t hear a report from NPR or read an article where people are saying higher education isn’t worth it,” he said. “I’m not advocating that we’re perfect. But I am advocating that higher education is indeed worth it. . . . We’re going to take a much more proactive stance in defending and promoting the value of higher education.”
Huckaby said that those directions would likely mean a retooling of the relationship between the USG and the Georgia Technical College System as well as consolidation of certain institutions.