Bill would create database of CU salaries, teaching loads, expenses

February 16, 2012

Regent Sue Sharkey to ask colleagues to endorse legislation

By Brittany Anas Camera Staff Writer
Posted:   02/16/2012 08:31:11 PM MST
Updated:   02/16/2012 08:43:19 PM MST

A University of Colorado regent said she will ask the board to endorse a state bill requiring CU — and other major public universities — to create a searchable database of professors’ salaries, teaching loads, travel expenses and grant money.

Regent Sue Sharkey, R-Windsor, said Thursday she plans to bring forward a resolution to the board next month seeking support for the Republican-sponsored “Transparency of Higher Education Financial Information” bill. Regent Jim Geddes, R-Sedalia, has indicated he’ll be a co-sponsor of the resolution.

Sharkey said that providing the information to taxpayers through the database fits into CU’s guiding principles of transparency and accountability. In light of a recent Camera reportabout tuition increases being used to pay for raises for administrators, she said the university needs to be transparent about the way it’s spending money.

Sharkey also said she often gets questions from constituents about professors’ salaries and teaching loads, and having a database would help parents understand the complexity of the university system’s budget.

But university officials and faculty leaders have early hesitation about the proposed state legislation, HB 1252.

CU system spokesman Ken McConnellogue said university officials are concerned about the fiscal impact of the bill, including how much money it would cost the university to compile and maintain the database. The bill would require that expenditure and revenue data be updated every five days.

There are 2,971 tenured and tenure-track faculty members in the CU system and 1,370 non-tenured faculty members, according to McConnellogue. The Boulder campus alone employs 1,090 tenured and tenure-track faculty members and 296 non-tenured faculty members.

He said the school already provides substantial amounts of financial data to the state. Employees realize that they are public employees and their salaries are public, as well as the number of classes they teach.

“We’re big believers in transparency,” McConnellogue said.

House Bill 1252 is sponsored by Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland. The bill would require that all salaries be provided anonymously, but that extra information be included for professors — including their benefits packages paid by the university.

The bill would apply to CU, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines and the University of Northern Colorado.

CU faculty governance leaders were mostly unaware of the measure, and it wasn’t discussed at the systemwide Faculty Council meeting in Denver on Thursday.

But Greg Carey, a psychology professor at CU-Boulder, said faculty teaching loads can vary from semester to semester, depending on factors such as departmental needs and schedules for research.

Mark Malone, chairman of the systemwide Faculty Council, said professors have been willingly taking on additional teaching loads amid budget cuts — which has been publicly recognized by CU regents.

The bill calls for the online, searchable databases to be available by July 1, 2013.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.

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