Top administrators of American University have proposed a six-month delay in pay raises for 1,300 faculty members and other employes to help the school out of a financial squeeze caused by a drop in enrollment.
Last week both faculty and nonfaculty groups voiced opposition to the idea, which would postpone regular raises from July to next January and set them at 4 percent then. But Provost Milton Greenberg, who suggested the delay with the backing of AU President Richard Berendzen, said he had not decided yet whether to present the proposal to the board of trustees.
"I want to avoid what happened to us last fall, the surprise RIFs and the shortfalls," Greenberg said in an interview. "I want to go in with a clean budget. But I'm not sure what we will do."
Meanwhile, in order to lessen program cuts that might have to be taken because of the university's tight finances, leaders of the AU student government have proposed that tuition be raised next fall by $100 more than administrators originally suggested. The rise would be from the current $6,200 a year to $7,000.
"Nobody wants to pay more money," said Student Confederation President Peter Scher. "But I think it's in the best interest of the university so no programs have to be cut."
The trustees are scheduled to vote on the AU budget, including salaries and tuition, at a meeting in March.
On Thursday, trustees of George Washington University, which also has financial and enrollment problems, voted to increase tuition next fall by 24.5 percent to $6,100 and to raise salaries 8 percent. In Virginia, Gov. Charles Robb has recommended a one-year pay freeze for all state employes, including those at public universities.
AU Provost Greenberg said he still thought it wise for his university "to safeguard our resources by not committing all our funds until we know what all our income will be" after students register for the new term in September.
About 95 percent of AU's teaching and research budget comes from tuition.
Last September, after enrollment fell an unexpected 5 percent, the university eliminated 50 nonteaching staff positions and cut funds for part-time faculty, libraries, air-conditioning and renovations. But it went ahead with 8 percent pay raises and kept all academic programs.
Earlier this month AU fired 94 cleaning service employes and replaced them with a less costly contractor.
Last Tuesday, the Staff Council, representing nonteaching employes, voted 14 to 8, with three abstentions, against the pay raise delay.
Suzanne Baraldi, a member of its executive committee, said the group acted after Greenberg said he could not guarantee there would be no further layoffs even if the delay were accepted.
At a meeting of the University Senate on Wednesday faculty representatives urged a 4 percent pay raise in July after voting against the six-month delay.
"I don't feel the faculty and staff should bear the brunt of what amounts to bad management of resources," said Mary Gray, a mathematics professor who strongly opposed any pay-raise postponement.
She added, "There are cuts that could be made in various programs where enrollments are down" as an alternative to delaying the raises.