Shaw University will restore salary levels for faculty and staff after reductions in the past several years, President Tashni Dubroy announced Tuesday.
Shaw employees should see a bump in their paychecks in September. While 2011 salary levels will be reinstated, employees won’t see back pay, Dubroy said in an interview Tuesday.
But the increase is important for employee morale, she said.
“We were extremely happy to be able to do that,” she said. “We have got to show our faculty and staff that we care about them, and at the end of the day, it hits their families’ bottom line.”
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Some said they were still skeptical the pay raise would come through, after years of false rumors that salaries would improve.
Juanda Holley, a 20-year veteran staff member at Shaw, said she was thankful for the news.
“I think the restoration of our wages is a huge boost to our morale, not to mention my credit score,” said Holley, who is executive assistant in the university’s student affairs department. “It’s a way of saying, ‘Thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice.’ Thank you goes a long way.”
In making the adjustment, Dubroy said the university’s financial fortunes have begun to turn a corner. She cited increases in enrollment, cost-saving initiatives and more private donations. Overall fundraising has increased by 40 percent, she said.
Shaw may be headed for a much bigger freshman class, too. As of July 1, Shaw has seen an 84 percent jump in student applications for this fall, Dubroy said, after switching to an electronic system for admissions.
“We noticed that millennial students were using their phones to apply for college, and Shaw University did not have a robust electronic platform,” she said.
As of now, 1,007 new students say they’ll come to Shaw in the fall, compared to 469 in 2015. Dubroy conceded that some of the committed students won’t show up, but there is still likely to be a significant jump in the freshman class.
It was a very different story five years ago.
Like some other historically black universities and small private colleges, Shaw had seen a decline in enrollment following the recession and changes to federal financial aid programs.
For the past six years, enrollment fell by an average of 9 percent a year at Shaw. Following lower enrollment, the university instituted pay reductions of 5 percent, 7 percent or 10 percent, depending on an employee’s salary.
Dubroy, 35, a Shaw alumna, chemist and entrepreneur, took office a year ago and set about hiring a new team of administrators and putting an emphasis on fundraising and technology. Meanwhile, the university reduced operational spending by 16 percent in the past year, she said.
Not all the changes were greeted warmly. Dubroy encountered protests after she allocated scholarships based on different criteria. Also last year, some alumni filed a lawsuit against two trustees, charging conflicts of interest and mismanagement of the university.
The decision to raise salaries doesn’t mean that Shaw will be spending freely again, Dubroy said. There are still issues to solve, she said. Residence halls need renovating and students have complained about the dining hall. But Dubroy said she’s feeling encouraged.
Last fall, total enrollment at Shaw was 1,656.
“If we can do 2,000 I would certainly be a happy camper,” she said. “At our peak we were at 2,700 students, approximately, but if we can do 2,000 students, that would be outstanding.”