Employees at the University of Central Arkansas will get $1,000 bonuses this month after the Board of Trustees approved a one-time payment Friday.
The move comes after the university saw a substantial increase in its cash reserves — to about $12 million at the end of July — and a 10 percent jump in freshman enrollment this year over last year, according to preliminary figures and UCA officials. The university’s credit rating has also improved, UCA officials said Friday.
The bonus, to be paid Sept. 30, will cost UCA nearly $1.7 million with $589,111 of that coming unexpectedly from the state earlier this year. About $1.1 million in savings was set aside for a possible bonus at the end of the last fiscal year, according to UCA documents.
Eligible faculty are full time and were employed on the last day of their contract period in fiscal 2012. Eligible staff were employed on June 30 and were eligible for benefits this past Friday. For example, faculty or staff hired on or after July 1 are not eligible for the bonus, nor are those employees who left UCA before Friday, according to documents to trustees. Employees who work 75 percent time would get $750.
The bonuses also come at a time when UCA is trying to move past poor financial figures from four years ago that caused employees to take pay cuts and to forego raises.
The last raise for nonclassified employees, which includes professors, was for 2.25 percent two years ago. Classified employees received a 2-percent pay increase last year. Earlier this year, faculty expressed frustration at the lack of pay raises, and Faculty Senate President Kevin Browne said some faculty are leaving UCA. He repeated his concern, despite bonus pay, during the board meeting.
“We are starting to lose people — good people,” Browne said.
About 21 people are listed on the “resignations, terminations and/or non-reappointment” list trustees considered in executive session.
President Tom Courtway said the bonus pay is important because he promised faculty and staff that if the university’s budget stabilized and enrollment figures improved, he would pay a bonus. The university is just short of its goal of $15 million in cash reserves. Total enrollment fell slightly this year over last year, but Courtway believed those figures could be turned around shortly.
Browne said faculty need pay raises.
“A bonus is nice — it would be welcome,” Browne said prior to the approval. “But it’s not a raise.”
The bonus will not be added to base salaries. Courtway said he hopes to put a cost of living increase in next years budget.