Ohio University plans to raise minimum faculty salaries and reports increased student retention

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Ohio University plans to raise minimum faculty salaries and to raise promotion bumps by $1,000 over the next three years.

Ohio University's Alumni Gateway on March 10, 2020
Ohio University’s Alumni Gateway on March 10, 2020 (WOUB/Michelle Rotuno-Johnson).

This was announced Tuesday at the university’s first University Update, which featured presentations by the new president and other university leaders.

The salary raises are recommendations adopted from Ohio University’s Faculty Compensation Study, said Elizabeth Sayrs, executive vice present and provost.

“The report recommended phasing in promotion bumps of $1,000 additional over four years. We’re going to do it in three, it’s retroactive,” Sayrs said. “So, if you got promoted in last year’s cycle, you’ll get a little more. If you’re going through this year and are successful, you’ll get two thirds. So that will actually be done by next year.”

According to a press release, the University Updates will be held periodically during the academic year and will “provide insight into OHIO’s strategic priorities and progress.”

President Lori Stewart Gonzalez opened the event by discussing the new President’s Opportunity Promise Award. Starting fall semester 2024, qualifying Pell-eligible students in Athens and six surrounding counties will be able to attend Ohio University tuition and fee free.

“(This award) allows us to guarantee social mobility and economic mobility and help build the middle class, which I think is a perfect value for OU,” Gonzalez said. “If we can educate those students that are here, they may stay here. That’s a workforce development, it’s an economic development thing and we would have an educated workforce in our city.”

With a total of 28,324 students, university enrollment increased this year by 2.5% compared to last fall. Ohio University set a new fall enrollment record in 2023, with 4,516 incoming freshmen. In total, 55.1% of all students enrolled at Ohio University are undergraduates, a 2% increase from last fall.

According to Sayrs, this increase in enrollment occurred not only on Ohio University’s main campus in Athens, but on its regional campuses as well. New incoming first-year enrollment on the regional campuses increased 14% compared to fall 2022.

Retention rates on both the Athens campus and regional campuses increased to their highest percentages since 2002 and 2006, respectively. Retention on the Athens campus increased from 79% last year to 82.7% this year. Regional campuses saw a retention rate of 63.8%, significantly higher than the three-year rolling average of 57.4%.

While Sayrs cautioned that some of this increase may be due to “COVID rebound,” she said the university is conducting an analysis to determine the factors behind this increase in retention rates.

“We know we’ve invested in targeted student success, we know that we’ve rolled out the Guarantee+ (Graduation Plan). We are going to do a deep dive at the January board meeting as we go through this analysis,” Sayrs said. “It seems to be related to online courses, allowing students to persist, course success rates going up overall, possibly the increase of more full-time faculty teaching.”