The Daily Gamecock

USC faculty, staff earning less than $100,000 a year eligible for bonuses

For many, pay raise will be first since July 2008

USC faculty and staff members who earn less than $100,000 a year are eligible for a bonus in late October, according to a new plan approved by the university’s board of trustees.

For many university employees, the one-time bonus would be the first pay raise since July 2008, when all state employees were awarded a salary increase.

The bonuses will likely average to about 1.5 percent per employee — or $750 for an employee earning $50,000 a year, according to university calculations.

But individual department heads will evaluate performance and decide how to disperse bonuses, which means some employees could earn a maximum of $3,000 and some could receive none, said Chris Byrd, USC’s vice president for human resources.

“It is a modest package for the deserving people,” USC President Harris Pastides said. “We don’t want to lose the best faculty and the most deserving professionals around here.”

Even Pastides admits the university probably should have done more. Clemson University recently announced that faculty and staff members would receive permanent raises, set to average 2.5 percent. Some faculty and staff members at USC were disgruntled after Clemson’s plan was announced, Pastides said.

Last year, USC awarded $2.7 million in supplements to faculty and staff already earning $100,000 a year or more. But those supplements were for employees performing extra responsibilities, according to the university.

“I’ll be honest and say maybe we should have done more, but I did what I thought was the right amount,” Pastides said. “It signaled our intentions to take care of our family.”

The package — worth $2.3 million overall — came from extra tuition dollars from record freshmen classes, Byrd said. USC has increased enrollment by more than 2,000 in the past two years, while employee ranks have suffered through layoffs and hiring freezes.

Employees who came to the university after May 1 aren’t eligible, according to the new plan. Byrd said university officials wouldn’t have time to evaluate those employees for performance metrics.

Pastides said the decision to offer bonuses came after several high-profile faculty members, including renowned poet Kwame Dawes, left the university last year. Pastides said USC couldn’t match an offer Dawes received from the University of Nebraska.

“Because we knew the job market was so bad, people could probably stick around,” Pastides said. “But we said this is not sustainable for our employees.”