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NORMAL — Some Illinois State University professors soon could see more money in their pockets.

On Wednesday, the ISU administration promised to spend about $555,000 on midyear salary adjustments for its inaugural year of a multiyear plan created to raise pay at ISU to parity with peer institutions.

"Not every individual on campus will receive a raise," ISU President Al Bowman told the Academic Senate.

Rather, the first phase of the program targets those ISU employees furthest below peer group averages.

Full and associate professors and nonunion civil service employees will be eligible for the merit-based increases, he said.

The number eligible is nearly 1,000 of ISU's estimated 4,000 employees. However, Bowman said the exact number of raises to be awarded isn't yet known.

The combination of tight budgets and rapidly changing market conditions has led to situations termed "salary compression" and "salary inversion," ISU officials said. The university's new hires come in at salaries near those of mid-career ISU professors, Bowman said.

College deans will lead the decision process on how faculty salary increases are awarded. The deans will get input from college, department and school faculty status committees.

Unit supervisors lead the process for nonunion civil service employees.

ISU administration officials say both groups will use comparative data to look at peer group salaries.

The salary increase plan was created following Bowman's call in September for his vice presidents to develop a long-range plan to tackle the problem.

Since taking the reins of the campus, Bowman repeatedly has said top goal is improving faculty and staff salaries to competitive levels.

"This plan is a serious commitment to faculty and staff," he said Wednesday.

After the Academic Senate meeting, ISU music professor and senate member Paul Borg said he was happy with Bowman's announcement.

"I'm especially happy they really have committed to making it a multiyear process," he said.

Borg also was glad to hear the administration would look at different variables across disciplines and hire dates in the merit-raise considerations.

The salary increases will come from a separate funding pool than money used for regular annual increases, said Bowman.

The $550,000 for this phase came from money set aside earlier in case the state asked the university to cut from its state budget allotment, said Steve Bragg, ISU vice president of finance and planning.

While the salary issues can't be solved in one year, Wednesday's announcement sets the tone for where ISU is going, Bowman said.

"We felt that although this is a continuing problem, we needed to move on this problem as quickly as possible," he said.

He expects to continue the midyear raises annually for the next three years.

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