EVMS stiffs employees 2nd consecutive year; misplaced priorities blamed for no raises again
But dean spends hundreds of thousands for fund wife's new department

"Unfortunately" J. Sumner Bell, president of the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) wrote in an email, "next year's budget does not include an allowance for merit increases for faculty and staff."

This is the 2nd year faculty and staff got stiffed because of what some claim is poor management and misplaced fiscal priorities. (See EVMS - a community school with growing problems

VNS reported earlier this year that the EVMS Dean Evan Farmer had bragged about cutting 81 staff positions, freezing staff and salary increases.  At the same time, he got the board to establish a new multi-million dollar Department of Dermatology (non-mission essential, but highly profitable) and hire his wife at a high 6-figure salary to head it.  Such nepotism would have been illegal a year or so earlier, but EVMS got the state law changed to allow such actions.

Now the board has done it again:  No raises. And Bell blames it on state budget cuts, not mis-spending or mis-placed priorities.

Three top employees retired after an unexplained investigation was initiated.  No evidence of wrongdoing was made public, however.

Earlier one EVMS official had pointed out that such board shenanigans was undermining the credibility, fund-raising, community support, and EVMS's most valuable resource - employee morale.  One man who contacted EVMS said he was withdrawing his financial and estate support of EVMS.  Wealthy school supporters said the school appears to be in the throes of management turmoil and upheaval.  See also:  Abrupt retirements @ EVMS puzzling & EMVS personnel investigated) .

In an email after the board's most recent action, Bell wrote that while he and the board were 'very appreciative for the employees hardwork and dedication, they wouldn't be monetarily rewarded.

Bell's email in full:

"At this evening’s meeting, the EVMS Board of Visitors approved the budget for the 2004 fiscal year.

Resident stipends, which are funded primarily by our affiliated hospitals, will increase by 3 percent, effective July 1, 2003.  We are very appreciative of this stipend increase, which will help our residency programs remain competitive nationally. 

Unfortunately, next year’s budget does not include an allowance for merit increases for faculty and staff.  This was a very difficult decision - one that has been shared by many colleges and academic health centers this year. 

Over the past several months, EVMS has experienced an 8 percent reduction in our state appropriation this year and an additional 15 percent reduction for the coming year.  It has taken a concerted effort - and many sacrifices - to adjust to these large cuts.  In addition to reducing expenditures, we have redoubled our efforts to strengthen those activities that can bring new revenues to EVMS, including patient care, indirect cost recoveries, and technology transfer. 

The end result has been increased stability in EVMS finances.  This stability is reflected in the new budget, which is built on reliable revenue sources, not on one-time sources of funding as in years past.  Unfortunately, the margin between our revenues and expenses has not quite increased to the level that would allow merit increases to be reinstated next year. 

The Board of Visitors and I are very appreciative of your hard work and dedication on behalf of EVMS, and our highest priority for Fiscal Year 2005 will be to reinstate merit increases for all faculty and staff, and provide targeted increases for specific classified positions to make those salaries more competitive with the local market.  With the continued best efforts of the faculty, staff, and administration, I am confident that we will meet this challenge."