Effective Nov. 1, Augustana College will raise the rate of minimum wage on campus for hourly employees from $12.62 per hour to $15 per hour.
The increase was initiated by the Augustana Board Chair John Murabito, who is an alumnus of Augustana and chief human resources officer of Cigna Corporation, and college president Steve Bahls. This increase makes Augustana a leader, as Illinois law currently has the minimum wage set at $11 per hour and scheduled a $1-increase per year through 2025, when it will then reach $15.
“The employees at Augustana are what make the college shine brightly,” Bahls said in a Wednesday release from the college. “It’s important to the entire college community that we compensate people competitively.”
“As the college turns a corner in the COVID-19 pandemic, finances and fiscal planning become clearer,” he said.
He noted Augustana is in a strong financial position that allows flexibility to increase the minimum wage ahead of the next state-mandated increases expected on Jan. 1, 2022.
“We recognize the strain that the pandemic has put on organizations, Augustana included, but I know that for each individual family that burden is much greater,” Bahls said.
The minimum wage increase comes after a $1,000 bonus was given to all full-time employees earlier this year. And it’s on the heels of an extra day off in 2021, which was recently announced. This increase does not apply to student employees.
“Employees at Augustana enjoy benefits that are unique to our institution,” said Mindy Zumdome, director of human resources. “Competitive health benefits, generous paid time off benefits, tuition remission for their children, and a vibrant, mission-driven community all attract and retain valuable talent.”
Like many other institutions and organizations, Augustana, with a workforce of 600, has a number of unfilled positions. The college currently has 16 open positions from a variety of departments (including faculty, staff and athletics).
“The mission of Augustana is to serve students and encourage them to find their life’s calling of leadership and service,” Bahls said. “It’s absolutely critical that we serve employees — the people who keep this place running — with the same drive and consideration.”
One big position the private school is looking to fill is president, as Bahls plans to retire July 1, 2022, after leading Augustana since summer 2003. This past February, the college held several listening sessions with key constituencies of the campus and wider community, to help draft a job description and get on the road to choose its ninth president by Jan. 1, 2022.
Bahls delayed his planned retirement (from this past summer to next year) in order to lead the college through the challenging years of the pandemic.