Michigan State University faculty, staff to receive $1,500 bonuses

The Detroit News

Michigan State University is slated to give some faculty and staff $1,500 bonuses, the school announced Monday.

In a statement, MSU President Samuel Stanley described the money to be paid next month as "recognition for your exceptional dedication and commitment" amid the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Those eligible are regular and temporary faculty, academic staff and support staff employees; research and post-doctoral fellows; as well as graduate teaching and research assistants, he said.

They must have been hired on or before Sept. 1, 2021, continue to work on Jan. 1, 2022, and comply with university COVID-19 protocols, according to the website.

"I want to be clear this one-time recognition bonus is being paid from MSU reserves. We can take these actions because our short-term situation has further stabilized, making us confident we can utilize one-time reserves to fund this well-deserved bonus," Stanley wrote.

"It’s important to note, however, that we still face challenges to our recurring base budget from a number of sources, including changes in enrollment patterns during the past two years, as well as new costs from the pandemic, which we will continue to address during the next three to four years."

Stanley said in December 2020 that MSU had been facing a $147 million deficit, though the figure did not take into account some mitigation strategies the school had already taken months into the pandemic, such as salary and benefit cuts to faculty and staff, program reductions and using reserve funds.

Fall enrollment that year fell 2%, contributing to a $54 million decline in revenue.

MSU cut pay for executives and deans between 2% and 10% and reduced wages for nonunion faculty and academic staff of between 1% and 7%. Employees earning less than $50,000 annually were exempt.

The university also required furloughs for 800 union employees and 700 student employees in hard-hit areas such as residential and hospitality services, deferred some capital projects and scaled back employer-match retirement contributions.

This fall, the school's overall enrollment fell 0.07% compared to 2020, enrolling 36 fewer students, and 0.3% since 2019.

The East Lansing campus enrolled 49,659 students this fall, and that figure included 9,065 new undergraduates, the school's largest entering class, MSU data shows. 

Last month, Stanley announced that through cost-cutting moves and updated budget projections, nonunionized faculty and academic staff hired on or before June 30 would receive a 2% merit raise effective Jan. 1. He also said the additional 5% match to university retirement contributions would be restored.

Days after the announcement, the MSU Faculty Senate approved a resolution seeking a retroactive restoration of all pandemic-associated salary reductions and retirement matches. It also requested merit raises be reinstated for nonunion academic managers, staff and faculty. 

Faculty also launched a petition asking the university to retroactively restore the lost wages, arguing MSU has more money to do so.

"Faculty and academic staff are struggling with increased teaching, research, and service workloads while managing our own family responsibilities," the authors wrote. "As wages increase nationally, we've seen our pay, benefits, and purchasing power drop significantly and unnecessarily."