TIME CAPSULE 1972 — During the week of March 22, 1972, Keene State College’s President, Leo F. Redfern, made the decision to increase the total salary of KSC employees by 5.5 percent.
The salary increase ultimately resulted in $105,160 being added to the budget, but that sum was broken down into multiple categories. An article from The Equinox reported that 2.5 percent of the money was dedicated to a general salary increase for employees, 2 percent went to new positions, and 1 percent was used for promotions and merit raises.
President Redfern’s decision was met with both support and dissent from the college’s faculty, with many professors complaining about the raise not being enough. Based on the figures provided in The Equinox, the amount dedicated to the general salary increase totaled $2,629. If, for example, the college had 50 employees, they would each get a $52 raise. Based on inflation, that’s equivalent to $304 in 2017.
Redfern defended his decision, saying that the new positions, which took 2 percent of the allocated money, were necessary for attracting prospective Keene State College applicants. He also cited his displeasure with having only a few full-time professors.
Some department chairmen, such as H. Peter Ch’en of the history department and James L. Spangenberg of the home economics department, sympathized with Redfern’s decision. Both men recognized the president’s effort in simultaneously attempting to both help the faculty and provide a quality education.
An article of The Equinox, written about the salary increases, noted that around half of the school’s staff who voiced opinions on the subject felt that a 2.5 percent increase was not a realistic number given the accompanying rise in cost of living, combined with the fact that they had not received raises the year prior.
In response, Redfern argued that the increase was not small when considering other neighboring colleges were closing, laying off professors, and cutting salaries.
When David P. Gregory, who was Keene State’s associate professor of biology at the time, warned that faculty members may begin leaving if their salaries were not increased; Redfern again alluded to the apparent necessity of adding new positions at the college to attract new students.
Miriam Goder, who was the assistant professor of music, inquired if any of the money allocated to merit raises would be used to correct alleged discrepancies between the salaries of the college’s male and female faculty members. President Redfern replied that money likely would go towards this cause, however it would first need to be proven that such discrepancies existed. He also added that “the existence of sex discrimination in salaries was mostly a matter of opinion.”
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