Friday, June 16, 2017

Engstrom to earn $119K next year as UM professor

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 12:26 PM

Royce Engstrom will return to teach at the University of Montana next fall as the third-highest-paid professor in the chemistry department.

The university announced Friday that Engstrom will earn $119,106 as a full, tenured professor teaching two courses this fall, which is considered a full teaching load.

Salary information for individual UM faculty members is not readily accessible, but Engstrom's compensation is about $10,000 above the average salary among current tenured chemistry professors at UM, says Kevin McRae, the state university system's deputy commissioner for human resources.

The highest paid professors in the department earn $137,000 and $135,000, McRae says. Chemistry department chair Chris Palmer did not immediately return a call for comment.

Engstrom resigned under pressure from Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian in December 2016, as UM's enrollment drop showed no signs of slowing.

Though pushed out of the presidency, Engstrom retained rights to his concurrent faculty appointment. His will be paid the remainder of his $309,000 president's contract through June 30.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER
  • Photo by Chad Harder
This fall will be the first time Engstrom is teaching at UM solely as a faculty member without an administrative role. He joined the university as provost in 2007 after 28 years at the University of South Dakota, where he was a chemistry professor and eventually an administrator. Upon joining UM as provost, Engstrom was also awarded a tenured faculty appointment, which is common for university deans and administrators.

He has 20 years of teaching experience, according to a Friday press release.

McRae says Engstrom and Christian did not discuss his return to teaching at the time of his resignation, but that Engstrom later expressed interest.

The salary was negotiated in accordance with the University Faculty Association collective bargaining agreement, which states that administrators who enter the bargaining unit must be award salaries that are "comparable to members ... with similar credentials and years of experience."

Given the necessity of a salary analysis, the state higher ed office was involved with the negotiation, McRae says. McRae could not recall if UM officials requested the state's assistance. Because Engstrom was already tenured, the university could not deny his return to professorship without cause.

Earlier this week, UM announced that it was extending a second set of buyout offers to tenured faculty between ages 60-64. The buyouts are part of an effort to cut costs in response to the enrollment decline that occurred under Engstrom's watch. Engstrom, who was 57 when named president in 2010, is within that age range. But UM Associate Vice President for Human Resources Terri Phillips says Engstrom is not eligible to take part in that particular buyout offer because his faculty contract does not begin until the fall, while the current incentives are aimed at employees with existing contracts.

For that reason, McRae says Engstrom was not offered any incentive to resign his faculty post, rather than return to teach.

"We are treating similarly situated employees similarly," he says.

Engstrom will teach two 100-level courses: Preparation for Chemistry and an honors seminar titled Ways of Knowing.

"Mary and I love the University of Montana and we love Missoula," Engstrom said in the release, referencing his wife. "We’re happy to stay here and continue to make Missoula our home.”

Engstrom delivered the commencement address at the University of South Dakota last month, according to the release.

Engstrom did not immediately return a request for comment.

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