University of New Orleans President John Nicklow on Tuesday vowed a two-phase boost in employee salaries in 2018, bringing to an end a decade without pay increases.
Delivering his bi-annual State of the University address before faculty and staff Oct. 17, the president described a University in transition, one that is turning the tide on years of enrollment declines through intentional and targeted outreach, strategic investment in research and expanded community partnerships.
Starting Jan. 1, employees who have been with UNO for more than two years and received no salary increase in the same position for two years will be eligible for a 1 percent increase or $500, whichever is larger, he said. He called the raise “a very small first step” and said it does not apply to assistant deans and above or executive directors and above.
“I wish I could provide a bigger increase,” he said. “I hope you will take it as a sign of good faith.”
Beyond that, an additional 5 percent pay increase will come to all faculty and staff when University enrollment grows by 6.75 percent to 8,500, which is the University’s fall 2018 goal—one he described as “entirely achievable.”
“That is my commitment to you,” Nicklow said. “Simply put, we have a goal. We need to go get it.”
In the last year, UNO’s overall enrollment stabilized. The University experienced the largest undergraduate enrollment in eight years with a 15 percent growth in new freshmen and new graduate students. Freshmen applications were up 16 percent and graduate school applications were up 7 percent.
“I’ve always said an enrollment turnaround takes three to four years to solve because it takes that long to slow the decline, stabilize and begin to grow,” Nicklow said, a chart behind him illustrating the gains. “After some pretty steep enrollment drops, the lowest point has been reached and we are indeed rebounding.”
The University’s recruitment strategies included purchasing more than 100,000 senior and rising senior names from ACT last year with plans to purchase 500,000 more, including sophomores, in preparation for 2018.
UNO also broadened outreach to prospective students through email, direct mail, texting, phone calls, radio and digital marketing that produced more than 2.4 million electronic communication touchpoints.
When recruiters travel to meet out-of-state students, digital marketing follows them, bringing them information about UNO to prospective students where and when it could be most useful and relevant.
Nicklow catalogued a number of indicators that suggest the efforts are working. Get to Know UNO and Explore UNO—the University’s fall and spring open houses—saw year-over-year attendance increases last year of 47 percent and 23 percent, respectively, he said. Freshman applications are already up 100 percent from the same time last year with freshman admits up 200 percent, he said.
At the same time, UNO is working to retain students, implementing 24-hour online tutoring, hiring 20 dedicated academic advisers and using data to identify students in need of academic support before it’s too late.
Other strides that Nicklow noted:
* Research: UNO has experienced a 13 percent increase in research awards and a $3.3 million increase in grant proposals, year to date. Internal grants to faculty have grown from $165,000 to $210,000 in fiscal 2017. And 90 undergraduate students have registered to participate in Innovate UNO, a juried research experience designed to highlight the work of students in all disciplines. That’s three times as many as last year.
* Advancement: UNO’s endowment has grown $4 million since December 2016 to nearly $71 million. UNO’s annual fund and unrestricted cash gifts increased 133 percent compared with last year. Alumni Affairs has undertaking a strategic planning process that should provide a five-year roadmap for the UNO International Alumni Association.
While UNO experienced a $1.7 million cut this year due to the higher education funding formula and a reduction in dedicated funding, Nicklow said the administration is actively seeking other streams of money.
“Our focus continues to be on becoming more self-reliant and creating new sources of revenue,” he said.
Benjamin Franklin High School and Net Charter School are leasing space on UNO’s campus. Nicklow said the University is in discussion with Hynes Charter School in Lakeview about replicating the K-8 school on UNO’s campus.
Local craft brewery Wayward Owl has created Privateer Pale Ale, already on tap in The Cove and at the brewery and in stores before the end of the year.
Nicklow also recognized three employees with annual awards:
* Tumulesh Solanky, professor and chair of mathematics, was presented with the 2017 Cooper Mackin Medallion, an award created in honor of UNO’s third chancellor that seeks to recognize a faculty or staff member who has made an outstanding contribution in support of UNO’s mission. Nicklow called Solanky, who has worked for UNO for 27 years, “a dedicated teacher and researcher who has assumed a key leadership role with a number of initiatives centered on student success and retention.”
* Alea Cot, assistant provost for international education, received the Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller International Leadership Medallion, which is presented to an individual who has provided significant leadership toward the internationalization of the University. Cot is a “tireless champion for international education,” Nicklow said.
* David Richardson, university safety officer who has worked at UNO for 38 years, was recognized with the Presidential Staff Medallion, an award given to a staff member who has demonstrated outstanding service to the University community. “He approaches his job with professionalism and pride,” Nicklow said, “and during hurricane season, his position takes on added importance.”
Nicklow concluded with words of gratitude for what he described as a dedicated, passionate and proud UNO community: “The reason that we have been able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time is simply because of you.”