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The Daily Tar Heel

Committee Won't Support Faculty Pay Raise Plan

Staff Writer

Even before the N.C. General Assembly reconvenes Wednesday, one university initiative already has taken a hit due to the state's budget deficit.

On Jan. 16, the General Assembly's Education Oversight Committee decided not to endorse the pay plan included in the Excellent Universities and Community Colleges Act designed to raise the salaries of faculty.

UNC-system officials had sought $28 million to boost pay, and state community college leaders asked for 8.5 percent salary increases each of the next five years.

But the committee cited the $486 million budget deficit and teacher accountability as issues that needed to be dealt with before supporting the proposal.

Rep. Charles Buchanan, R-Avery, who is a member of the committee, said the pay raise matter has been sent to a legislative subcommittee for further study.

The extra time would give committee members the opportunity to study teacher accountability, which they said needed to be taken into consideration before salaries are raised.

"(We) wanted to look at accountability more," said Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, who sits on the committee. "I think the committee wants more study time."

Accountability is one area in which the UNC system and community colleges differ. Insko said the UNC-system peer review process does not exist at the community college level because community college professors have no tenure.

The peer review system evaluates faculty members and their performances every year until they attain tenured professorships.

"There's a lot of pressure on university faculty to maintain a high level of performance," Insko said.

She said the committee is trying to develop a similar system of review for community college faculty.

"We're just beginning that process," Insko said. "The first step is information gathering."

Insko said even though the committee did not endorse the proposal, there probably would be some raises this year.

"I believe there will be some increases in salary this session," Insko said. "But I don't think there will be big boosts."

University officials and student leaders said they were disappointed with the delay but hopeful for the future.

UNC Association of Student Governments President Andrew Payne said he had hoped the committee would endorse the pay raises, even though it might not be financially feasible right now.

He said the ASG members will bring up the issue when they travel to Raleigh on Feb. 20 for Student Day at the Capitol.

"It gives us motivation to go down there," Payne said. "I can understand why they withheld financial support, but I think the legislature needs to come out and endorse the raises."

J.B. Miliken, UNC's vice president of public affairs, said university officials will continue to discuss the matter with the General Assembly.

Miliken said the pay raises are very important to the state's educational reputation.

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"We need to have a significant investment in faculty salaries," Miliken said. "(North Carolina isn't) competitive right now."

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