Faculty, staff receive bonus from college budget surplus

By Kyle Coombs

After the 38th fiscal year with a balanced budget, President Brian Rosenberg announced on Monday that the Macalester senior staff and Board of Trustees voted to use a positive variance from the 2011-2012 budget to give an unprecedented bonus of $500 to full-time faculty and a prorated amount to part-time faculty. In contrast to a planned budget surplus, a positive variance is the difference between the actual and planned performance of an institution. “When such an overage has occurred in the past,” the e-mail from Rosenberg read, “The amount has usually been directed toward capital projects, to invest in physical improvements around campus.” Vice President for Administration and Finance David Wheaton said that in the past, positive variance sums were used to replace the elevators in Dupre and Doty, fix roofs and build medians. Generally the money was added to Facilities’ budget, he said, but the senior year staff decided to try something new. “Facilities always has a list of things to do,” Wheaton said. “But I think they also understand the importance of the employee group.” The senior staff came up with the bonus idea during their August retreat, he said. Employees will receive the bonus as part of their paycheck at the end of the October. “We wanted to find a way to invest in our people who are our most valuable resource,” he said. Rosenberg’s email referenced an increase in faculty workload in recent years due to smaller department budgets and an increased student body size. He commended faculty for their hard work. “In fact, indications are that the student experience has strengthened considerably over the past years, thanks to your exceptional efforts,” he wrote. Outside of lifting a freeze on salaries during the 2008-2009 fiscal year, which had a similar effect, Wheaton said this was the first time the senior staff has designated positive variance for faculty and staff members. In order to receive the bonus, employees must have been on the payroll as of May 31, 2012 and still maintain employment at Macalester. Additionally, only those employed by Macalester will receive the bonus. This excludes staff in Bon Appétit, the mailroom and Document Services as well as the security guards. Part-time employees will receive a fraction equal to the percentage time they work. Psychology Professor Brooke Lea wrote in an email that he reacted to the bonus announcement with “unbridled joy” not expecting it “even a little bit.” Wheaton said the senior staff had given no indication of the announcement so that they could make one unified announcement on Monday. Lea said he plans to use the bonus for family fun. “I’ll stimulate the local economy by taking my son to a few Timberwolves games,” she wrote. Media Services Technician David Reynolds was also pleased to hear about the bonus. “I am very pleased and thankful that Macalester is going to award a bonus to its faculty and staff,” he wrote in an email. “My wife was very happy to hear the news. It is a great blessing to our household budget.” Wheaton said the senior staff has no intention of making this an annual occurrence. “It was one way to recognize the work of our employees,” he said. Lea said word of the announcement spread quickly. “Twenty minutes after I got the announcement I received an email from a colleague at a local institution advising me to not ‘spend it all in one place, and definitely not at one golf course,’” he wrote. “We’ll see.” refresh –>