Education

Faculty groups object to raises for UNC system chancellors

Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts
Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts Appalachian State University via WBTV

Across the state, faculty are denouncing the UNC Board of Governors’ recent action to raise chancellors’ pay while professors’ salaries remain flat.

At Appalachian State University on Tuesday, protesters asked Chancellor Sheri Everts to give up her 17.5 percent increase, which boosts her annual pay to $335,000. The same day, the East Carolina University Faculty Senate passed a resolution expressing “disapproval of the taxpayer-funded pay raises for top management at a time of stagnant taxpayer-funded wages for the rank-and-file who are major contributors to the work of the university.”

Also, about 270 people have signed an online petition that asks chancellors to reject the raises, which signers called “immoral,” “shameful” and “greedy.”

On Friday, the UNC board, in a closed-session vote, gave raises to 12 of 17 UNC system chancellors, ranging from 8 percent to 19 percent. In the recently passed state budget, university employees and faculty got $750 one-time bonuses but no salary increase.

The information on the chancellors’ salaries was released by the university’s General Administration three days after the vote. On Tuesday, The News & Observer requested minutes of the closed-door meeting and details on how board members voted. State law says the minutes of closed meetings must be produced, as long as their release wouldn’t “frustrate the purpose of a closed session.” So far, that information has not been disclosed.

If they’re concerned about market value and adjusting salaries, then they should do the same study for faculty who haven’t had raises in several years now.

John Stiller, faculty chair at East Carolina University

John Stiller, faculty chair at ECU, said he had distributed the ECU senate resolution to other faculty groups on Wednesday. It calls on system faculty leaders to appeal to the UNC board to conduct a market study of UNC system faculty salaries.

The board had hired a consultant last year to analyze the pay of top administrators, chancellors and the president. The firm, Buck Consultants, concluded that UNC executives’ salaries were not competitive for “top-tier” talent in the market.

“If they’re concerned about market value and adjusting salaries, then they should do the same study for faculty who haven’t had raises in several years now,” said Stiller, an associate professor of biology.

G.A. Sywassink, chairman of the UNC board’s personnel and tenure committee, said last week that the chancellor raises were justified because the university needs to have the right leaders in place.

“We’re intent on doing what’s fair and honest for all the people that are associated with the university over time, as soon as we can, especially as that involves our faculty, who we have the utmost respect for and understand how important they are,” added Sywassink, who led a compensation subcommittee for the board.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard received a raise of 19 percent, bringing his annual base pay to $385,000. But ECU officials pointed out that new market ranges set by the UNC board earlier this year set the minimum salary of ECU chancellor at $431,000. Ballard last received a raise in 2012.

“I certainly recognize that the timing of this increase will raise concerns,” said a statement by Ballard, who will retire next year. “Our faculty and staff have not been compensated adequately and yet they continue to excel and to implement our mission. Retaining our talent has been our first priority for several years but much more work remains.”

We’re intent on doing what’s fair and honest for all the people that are associated with the university over time, as soon as we can.

G.A. Sywassink, chairman of the UNC board’s personnel and tenure committee

The faculty resolution was not aimed specifically at Ballard, Stiller said, who “does deserve recognition of having done an excellent job.”

But, he added, the idea that top leaders’ pay isn’t competitive is a “circular argument.” “Faculty just don’t buy it anymore,” Stiller said.

“The enormous increase in the salary and benefit package that they granted to our new president is near the high end of the distribution,” Stiller said. “They are effectively pushing that market value up.”

The board recently hired Margaret Spellings as president at a base salary of $775,000, which is $175,000 more than the salary of current President Tom Ross. She will also be able to earn more money with deferred compensation and with annual bonuses if she meets as-yet-undetermined performance goals, according to her five-year contract.

At Appalachian State, faculty protesters objected to raises for the university system’s highest-paid employees “at a time when tuition at North Carolina’s public universities has risen by 35.8% since 2008 and the state legislature has slashed funding for public universities,” a flier said. “Meanwhile, faculty salaries have remained virtually stagnant in recent years, and the university continues to hire poorly paid non-tenure track faculty to do much of its teaching.”

According to the American Association of University Professors’ annual survey of faculty pay in 2014-15, the salaries of full professors averaged $96,400 at East Carolina and $91,000 at Appalachian State. Associate professors earned $76,100 at ECU and $71,300 at ASU. Assistant professors’ average salaries were $68,000 at ECU and $64,200 at ASU.

Stiller predicted more faculty groups would weigh in on the issue.

“As long as the board continues to behave in a secretive manner and as long as the board seems to continue to disregard faculty concerns across many areas, then it won’t go away,” he said.

Jane Stancill: 919-829-4559, @janestancill

Chancellor raises

Name

School

New salary

Percent change

Carol Folt

UNC-Chapel Hill

$570,000

9.62%

Randy Woodson

N.C. State University

$590,000

13.46%

Philip Dubois

UNC Charlotte

$387,500

19.43%

Steven Ballard

East Carolina University

$385,000

19.36%

Franklin Gilliam

UNC Greensboro

$375,000

unchanged

Harold Martin

N.C. A&T State University

$360,000

12.50%

Sheri Everts

Appalachian State University

$335,000

17.54%

Debra Saunders-White

N.C. Central University

$330,000

15.79%

David Belcher

Western Carolina University

$335,000

19.43%

Jose Sartarelli

UNC Wilmington

$350,000

unchanged

Mary Grant

UNC Asheville

$295,000

15.69%

Stacy Franklin Jones

Elizabeth City State University

$230,000

unchanged

James Anderson

Fayetteville State University

$325,000

unchanged

Robin Cummings

UNC Pembroke

$280,000

unchanged

Lindsay Bierman

N.C. School of the Arts

$290,000

13.73%

Elwood Robinson

Winston-Salem State University

$280,000

7.69%

Todd Roberts

N.C. School of Science

and Math

$230,000

8.23%

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