Montana State University-Northern offers the second-lowest faculty wage of all the colleges in the United States in its category.
According to data from the National Education Association, in the 2011-2012 school year, Northern was beaten out only by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in terms of lowest faculty salaries in America.
“Basically what that report shows is that over the years, MSU-N has suffered from low salaries,” said Darlene Sellers, a counseling professor at Northern. “We are at the point now where we’re having difficulty with retaining and recruiting faculty.”
Northern offers an average salary of $48,400 to its institutional faculty, according to the NEA.
The universities are categorized by the highest degree they offer. Northern is a graduate degree-granting institution, whichs place it in the BA+ category. The next higher and final category is the doctorate degree-granting institutions and includes Montana State University and the University of Montana. These institutions’ average salaries are $65,000 and $93,400, respectively.
The other universities in Montana’s BA+ category are Montana State University-Billings and Montana Tech of the University of Montana. These institutions’ average salaries are $53,100 and $61,200, respectively.
One associate degree-granting institution in Montana pays a higher salary than Northern. Flathead Valley Community College pays an average salary $200 higher than Havre’s four-year institution.
According to data from the Montana University System website, MSU-N will spend 26.29 percent of its budget on contract faculty in the 2014 fiscal year. Contract administration will receive 4.13 percent of the university’s budget. In the 2013 fiscal year, 28.67 percent was given to faculty and 4.22 percent was given to administration.
MSU-Billings will spend 29.34 percent of its budget on faculty and 6.58 percent on administration in 2014. Montana Tech will spend 33.43 percent on its budget on faculty and 3.06 percent on its administration.
One percent of MSU-N’s 2014 budget of $16,059,889 is $160,698.89
Chancellor James Limbaugh at an open forum Tuesday said it is the faculty’s responsibility to negotiate their salaries with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
OCHE is “vested with the authority to manage negotiations consistent with applicable law and Board policy,” according to the policy and procedures manual from the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education.
At the open forum, Limbaugh told listeners he advocates on behalf of the faculty, but can legally make no real steps toward acquiring raises for the faculty.
“I think that this is a critical time to look at what this means for the institution,” Sellers said in regards to the low salaries.