NKU employees to receive holiday bonus: Students to continue receiving an education

Even as the barricades went up and the lights went out in parking lots in a penny-pinching effort by Northern Kentucky University over the Thanksgiving break, employees could joyfully put up their holiday lights because of an announced holiday pay bonus.

In a Nov. 12 e-mail with the subject line reading “Good News!” that was sent to faculty and staff, University President James Votruba announced that full-time faculty and staff members will receive a $750 bonus on their December paychecks. Part-time staff members will receive a prorated bonus based on their level of employment, and part-time faculty will receive a $100 bonus.

In an interview with The Northerner, when asked about the impact of the bonuses on the lives of NKU employees, Votruba said, “I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails saying this will help…This is weighted heavily towards our employees at the lower end of the pay scale. The impact of the recession has gotten to them.”

However, as faculty and staff are seeing bonuses, students are only left with an expectation that tuition and fees will soon increase once again.

When asked when students will receive their holiday bonus, Votruba responded that he thinks students are getting a bonus in terms of a protection of “academic quality…small class sizes…(and) outstanding faculty and staff.” He added that these features are the ones most commonly cited to him by NKU students about what sets the university apart from others.

“Competitive salaries are essential if we are to recruit and retain high-performing faculty and staff,” Votruba said, calling them “our most important asset.”

Votruba did not provide an answer when asked how a holiday bonus weighted towards the lower end of the pay scale — which tends to be staff positions and not faculty — will help NKU maintain its small classes sizes and well-educated faculty.

Additionally, NKU has eliminated several positions that have become vacant in order to cut costs.

Kevin Golden, a member of the university’s governing Board of Regents and president of the Student Government Association, admitted the announcement of employee bonuses may be shocking to students at first, but one important impact is just showing gratitude to the employees who inspire student achievement.

“Our university remains a learner-centered institution, but to keep the morale of the people who are supporting our students high, they must feel that they are contributing to the greater good of NKU as an institution and as a community and that their contributions are not going without recognition,” Golden said. “Without faculty and staff support, students would have a difficult time achieving any number of accomplishments.”

Votruba echoed these sentiments, adding that faculty and staff have had to endure without increases in pay.

“We have not increased salaries in two years. We concluded that it was important for the university to provide a one-time stipend to both recognize our performance as a campus and to help offset the impact that the recession has had on many of our employees and their families,” Votruba explained.

Votruba also said that faculty and staff should not be disheartened by the bonuses, because the university is still working with a goal of bringing back merit-based salary increases as soon as possible.

Although NKU employees are receiving bonuses across the board, Votruba said he will not be receiving a bonus this December.

Story by Jesse Call