ALICE Is No Wonderland

ALICE Is No Wonderland

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 12:00 AM
Academics, TBR, Press Releases, Athletics, All, Employees, Community

Recently, I had the task of signing letters to all employees indicating their adjusted salary with a
2% cost-of-living increase. While any increase is good news I was reminded what salary each
employee actually makes. Like all colleges, our salaries range quite a bit and overall we compare
very well with similar schools. Still, I could not help take notice of those at the bottom end of
our pay scales. I asked myself, “how can they make it on that salary?’

Coincidentally, that same week we hosted a community meeting on our campus to talk about
poverty in our community. The focus of the conversation was a new report developed by the
United Way. The report is called ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed).

Essentially, it sheds new light on the magnitude of poverty in our community with an emphasis
on the “working poor.” The report indicated that in our 5-county service area 38% - 49% of
households struggle to afford the necessities of housing, childcare, food, health care and
transportation on a monthly basis.

Luckily, our enrollment and revenue is up this year so we have budgeted a pool of funds to help
employees get part of the way toward their targets on our compensation plan starting January 1 st .
After doing the calculations, we found that we still had some full-time employees that would be
making less than $30,000 a year.

Obviously, the ALICE Report weighed heavily on my mind. At our next Cabinet meeting I
brought this subject up for discussion and proposed we set a minimum salary for our full-time
employees; ensuring nobody earned less than $30,000 per year. Their support was
overwhelming. It was moving to me that they shared the understanding that we should help
those members of our college family who were earning the least. We quickly approved a motion
to build the additional cost into our fall budget revision.

Poverty is an issue that affects all aspects of our community. Some may think poverty is only
about the homeless people we see around town. Others may think it’s the person in front of us in
the grocery line using food stamps. The reality is the faces of poverty may be our friends,
colleagues or students who are struggling every day to make ends meet.

In many respects, what we have done to adjust our minimum salaries at Cleveland State is just
one small step. Imagine if every employer takes a small step. We just might see a significant

To learn more about ALICE visit Also, check with your
local United Way for data about poverty in your community.

Dr. Bill Seymour


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