Most eligible Emporia State employees received a 2.5 percent raise last semester, according to figures released by the university. The raises were largely based on merit, but requirements also included the completion of online diversity training. 

A total of 636 employees, out of 746 eligible, received the full raise. That’s 85 percent. 

The average raise was $1,314, according to Gwen Larson, director of marketing and media relations. Only five employees of those who got raises didn’t get the full amount. 

In addition to the diversity training, employees who got raises were required to have a satisfactory or better on their most recent evaluation. 

When Michael Smith, chair of the Department of Social Sciences, first heard about the raises, he felt relief. 

“It’s been quite a while,” Smith said. “Our last merit pay increases were about 10 years ago.” 

There are currently 840 full- and part-time employees at the university, not counting student employees or graduate assistants, Larson said. 

Last year, Gov. Laura Kelly called for a 2.5 percent increase for all state employees. For Kansas Board of Regents institutions, however, decisions about the amounts, and procedures for the awards, were left up to the schools. 

“The decision how to administer the raises came after collecting information from ESU Human Resources on best practices,” Larson said. “(We gathered) input from shared governance representatives and advice from the vice-president leadership team. The final system came after much study and discussion determined it was best for Emporia State and its faculty and staff.” 

Smith said the training provided some good information on microaggressions. 

“I had mixed feelings about the training,” Smith said. “There was some useful information in there. For example, I’ve heard a lot about microaggressions, but I’ve never had someone who studies it explain the concept. I think the fellow that was interviewed for that video course was actually one of the people who developed the concept and that was really interesting to hear it from the source. I feel like I understand microaggressions better, so that was good.” 

While Smith said he thought the training was good, he did disagree with the way certain topics were handled. 

“A lot of the trainings will do this, the IT training we do is the same way, but some things are just so obvious,” Smith said. “You just think ‘Seriously? You don’t think people already know this?’ Not all of (the trainings are like this), but some.” 

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