By Wes Dorcelus; The Whetstone
When Professor Ron Douglas came to Wesley, he said he was promised specific benefits.
The College did not come through.
“When I first got to Wesley College six years ago, I was promised a Health Reimbursement Account, which helped pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses,” said Douglas, Chair of Multimedia Communication.
“But slowly, over time, half of the plan had been taken away until, eventually, all of it was taken away.”
Faculty at Wesley College said they have received no salary increased in five years, but also have seen health costs rise and benefits lowered during that same time.
Douglas also said the College has trouble helping faculty compensate for their health care.
“Health insurance has skyrocketed along with cost of living,” he said. “But my income has stayed the same since I got here, which doesn’t help compensate with both raises in health care and cost of living.”
Douglas said it also is reflected in the College’s retirement plan, where benefits have been lowered.
Dr. Jeffery Mask, professor of Religion, Philosophy, and American Studies, said his salary makes it hard to make up for the losses in health insurance and the cost of living.
“Our salary has been flat for the past five years, while taxes and homeowner’s insurance have increased,” he said.
Mask said, like Douglas, that Wesley’s former out-of-pocket deductibles in the health plan – called the Health Reimbursement Account – was taken away.
“The college used to pay for our health expenses,” he said. “But now I have to pay for it. Paying (more for deductibles) has put me in great debt. An eye drop alone was $350.”
Mask said he was annoyed that his work is compensated so little.
“I’m annoyed that I went to school to get a PhD, applied here hoping to make a living and not to get poor,” he said. “But I’m practically out of the middle class.”
Mask said that he wants Wesley to shift its focus.
“I would like for us to focus on our goal as a college and that is education,” he said.
Dr. Brantley Craig, a professor in English/Philosophy and Religion, said he has felt the lack of compensation in his life.
“Pay hasn’t changed much, but health insurance has increased, which isn’t easy to compensate,” he said. “But I try my best to not worry so much about.”
Craig said Wesley is facing a crisis with competitive wages.
“Competitive wages is when a college pays their employees the same any college would,” he said. “Wesley right now is lacking in that area.”
Craig said he hopes this changes.
“The one change I would like from Wesley is better salaries and better faculty benefits,” he said.
At least one professor said he doesn’t want to focus on low salary and increasing costs in health care.
Frank Fielder, professor and chair of Mathematics, said he tries focus on the positives.
“We are getting paid, that’s all I really want to focus on right now,” he said. “There’s too much negativity around Wesley, and my goal is to have my students graduate.”
Fiedler quoted a German saying.
“Fear eats the soul,” he said. “That’s why I focus on being positive.”