Nellis says UI needs more money to retain faculty

Credit: KTVB

University of Idaho President Duane Nellis

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by Natalie Podgorski

KTVB.COM

Posted on January 25, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 11:41 AM

BOISE-- It's Education Week at the Idaho Capitol.  Wednesday morning, the University of Idaho took over the Statehouse.

The fourth floor was filled with booths from different colleges and campuses around the state.  There was also a student from every district of the state.

Students met with their state representatives to show them around the different booths and share their thoughts on higher education.

Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder was one of the senators who stopped by to meet with students.

"The main reason I come is just to learn about what's going on at the university and the impact it has on education, as well as business and job development in the state," said Winder.

Marlena Warner, a UI sophomore, showed him around the booths and shared some of the issues that are on her mind.

"She talked a lot about other students that need financial help and just trying to manage their own budgets," said Winder.

"I'm lucky to not have any loans but that is not the case for a lot of kids out there," said Marlena Warner, a National Merit Scholar.

Warner is not just worried about money for students.  "In my experience as a student the professors have really been the ones that have made my experience there (the University of Idaho)," said Warner.

She hopes lawmakers can make room in the budget for professor pay increases.  That is the main concern this year for UI President Duane Nellis. He says faculty has not had a raise in four years.

"We are doing more than less, every one of them has more responsibilities then they did four years ago, so they are working harder but heir compensation hasn't changed," said Nellis.  "We've lost some of our star faculty to other institutions because of that."

Nellis says the university has lost at least 15 key faculty members because they could not afford to pay the salaries other schools were offering.

Nellis did not say exactly how much money he wants to go toward staff increases, only that it is his top budget priority.

The university hopes that at Wednesday's event, lawmakers can develop connections with students and the school, hopefully keeping them in the back of their mind when they look at legislation and budget proposals for the rest of the session.

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