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Trustees Approve New Kendall College of Art and Design Faculty Contract

Ferris State University's Kendall College of Art and DesignGRAND RAPIDS – During a recent special board meeting, Ferris State University’s Board of Trustees approved a new contract agreement between the Kendall College of Art and Design Faculty Association and Kendall College of Art and Design that covers approximately 200 faculty teaching undergraduate and graduate courses for the college.

Talks began in May and the agreement was reached a month before the current contract expires. The new agreement, which will be in effect through Aug. 21, 2017, will fund market adjustments to salary and merit increases based on performance for full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty.

Sandra Davison-Wilson, Kendall vice president for administration and finance and chief negotiator for the administration, said members of the faculty negotiating team were thoroughly engaged in the process and approached matters in a cooperative and thoughtful manner that balanced the needs of the faculty with the needs of the college.

“Throughout negotiations, members of the KFA were cognizant of the financial challenges that higher education is facing with rising health care costs and decreasing revenues with the number of college-going students declining in the state. They were willing to think outside of the box in order to create a culture where they can excel and have the most impact on their students and where the college can continue to grow and advance,” Davison-Wilson said.

“The previous agreement resulted in a very attractive salary package, with some faculty receiving double-digit percentage increases because their salaries were well below their peers at other art and design institutions. With this in mind, the KFA understood that different financial incentives would need to be created in this new agreement,” Davison-Wilson added.

KFA agreed to eliminate minimum salaries for the associate and professor ranks and an across-the-board percentage increase. Instead, they negotiated to retain market and merit increases, with the available annual pool for market adjustments increasing from $60,000 to $77,000, and the annual merit pool increasing from $20,000 to $25,000, effectively moving the faculty toward a level of statewide salary parity throughout the five years of the agreement.

Full-time faculty holding a term appointment for either a semester or an academic year will receive no salary increase for the 2012-13 academic year, but they will receive a $500 annual salary increase for each of the next four years.

Adjunct faculty increases for the five-year contract vary per year and per the number of semesters taught. They will receive an average $200 increase per each three-credit course.

“We had a great KFA president, Darlene Kaczmarczyk, who contributed to a very successful interest-based bargaining process that never required mediation,” Davison-Wilson said.

“The Kendall Faculty Association is dedicated to providing the highest quality instruction for Kendall students and we are pleased the administration recognizes the dedication of the faculty as we work for the continuing success of our talented students,” Kaczmarczyk said.

The KFA also agreed to a less expensive MESSA health care plan that will reduce the annual premium for family coverage by nearly $4,000 and decrease the college’s annual costs by $22,000. The faculty also agreed to annual reductions in the college’s contribution to health care from 4 percent in FY12, to 3.75 percent in FY 14, 3.6 percent in FY15, 3.5 percent in FY16 and 3 percent in FY17.

“The entire Kendall administration commends the faculty for taking the initiative to recognize the rising costs of health care and for their willingness to choose a less rich plan with higher deductibles. They acknowledged that the critical path the institution had to take was one that restrained health care costs and salary increases,” Davison-Wilson said.

“I applaud those on both sides who worked on this contract. I have never seen a process that was so characterized by understanding and collegiality. This speaks volumes about the kind of institution that Kendall College of Art and Design is and why the future for the college is so bright,” said David Rosen, Kendall’s new president.

Rosen’s sentiments were echoed by Ronald E. Snead Sr., chair of the Ferris State University Board of Trustees.

“It is encouraging to see the KFA and Kendall administration work together for the best interest of the students and the college,” Snead said. “Realizing the impact of health care costs and student enrollment for the overall well being of Kendall speaks highly to the KFA’s commitment to the success of both the students and college both now and well into the future.”

Other highlighted contract changes are as follows:

  • Defined roles for the college academic dean and college president, which are now two separate positions;
  • Expanded roles of program chairs to include faculty mentoring;
  • Reduced number of independent study courses from three per semester to two and must be taught by tenured and tenure-track faculty; and
  • Improved reduced workload language.