The University of New England Campus Credit: Flickr | Creative Commons

The University of New England has announced that it will freeze employee salaries in the coming school year. School officials say the freeze is intended to keep tuition from rising more than the planned increase of 3 percent.

Nicole Trufant, UNE’s vice president for finance and administration, said enrollment in its pharmacy program is down, and the salary freeze is a response in large part to that.

“We’re confident that the enrollments will rebound, so we’ll continue to invest in that college,” Trufant said. “But for this year we’ve come together as a university to sort of tighten up the budget on that so we can support the program.”

Trufant said the savings will be about $700,000 or $800,000, compared with a 1.6 percent raise, which UNE gave its employees last year.

According to the university’s tax forms from 2016, the most recent year available, the university’s president, Danielle Ripich, earned about $758,000, including a $33,000 or a 5 percent increase in base salary from the year before. The Portland Press Herald reports that employees saw an average pay hike during that period of 2.1 percent.

Trufant said she understands that employees may feel like the president’s salary is an obvious place to cut, but that reducing salaries of senior administrators does not make that much sense because it is a small number of people and because those salaries are consistent with the market.

“We’ve had changes in leadership that have come in, so we want to recruit the talent and leadership that we need to lead the university forward.”

In the 2019-20 school year, undergraduate university tuition is about $37,000, with total estimated costs at just over $57,000, although the university’s website says most students get some form of financial aid.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.