Texas A&M President Michael K. Young sent a letter to faculty and staff, leading to a strongly worded letter from A&M System Chancellor John Sharp.
Young sent a letter to the Faculty Senate on Thursday, Sept. 17 in which he said the recently delayed merit raises were solely due to the Board of Regents not yet approving the budget for the 2020-2021 academic year. According to KBTX, in the letter from Young, he promised that certain merit raises would be given to faculty members.
“Certain pay increases such as faculty promotions, staff reclassifications and equity/retention adjustments were approved for Sept. 1, 2020 and will be implemented as planned,” Young’s letter read. “Additional communication from your respective unit heads or their designees will be forthcoming. You should expect to receive corrected salary letters reflecting necessary adjustments as a result of the delayed merit program.”
Young said the cause of postponement was a result of lack of budget approval by the Board to increase merit raises.
“While Texas A&M University had planned for and budgeted a limited merit increase pool for FY21 [Fiscal Year 2021], the A&M System Board of Regents did not approve the portion of the budget allocated for these increases,” Young’s letter to the Faculty Senate read. “Instead, they have asked that funds budgeted for merit increases (including one-time merits) be set aside in reserves until further notice.”
Sharp reprimanded Young in a letter on Sept. 18, writing that Young placed undue blame on the Board in the letter to faculty and staff by implying that this was a political issue instead of economic.
Sharp cleared up the reasons behind the postponement in his letter, stating that the decision was the result of uncertainty about the upcoming year with COVID-19, and expenses such as possible refunds that would require the money initially intended for the raises. Sharp also added the money would be set aside in the hopes that the raises could still be given out to the deserving parties at a later date, so long as it was not needed for aforementioned COVID-19 related purposes.
In his letter, Sharp wrote that Young’s statements were “false and misleading” and any confusion on the allocations of the budget for the year are the fault of Young.
“No other President in the Texas A&M System made that mistake,” Sharp’s letter read. “Now you compound your error by shifting the blame to the Board. That is inexcusable. Your actions are disappointing.”
Young replied to Sharp on the same day, apologizing for any “bad light” he may have shed on Sharp or the Board at the Faculty Senate about their role in the budget for the academic year.
“The Faculty Senate and staff inquire on a regular basis about the status of merit funds in reserves,” Young’s reply reads. “I made a very poor choice in words and sincerely regret doing so.”
He went on to further explain that the pandemic has overshadowed the work of the Board, and he was “distressed” at his wrongdoing.
“I bear sole responsibility and profoundly apologize to you and the Board as I know you are all true advocates for our students, faculty and staff and that the Board’s commitment to excellence in supervision and stewardship is unmatched anywhere,” Young’s reply read. “Please accept my deepest apology.”
Young announced on Sept. 2 that he would be retiring from his position as president of the university in May 2021. Following his tenure, he will work for the Bush School of Government and Public Service, directing A&M’s new Institute for Religious Liberties and International Affairs.