The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

UNC system alters faculty retention policy

The governing body of the UNC system is giving universities more leeway in how they handle outside offers for their faculty.

Faculty members previously had to submit a letter proving that they had received an offer from another university.

But the Board of Governors decided to revise the policy at its meeting earlier this month, allowing each school to determine the level of proof that faculty will have to provide.

Burley Mitchell, a member of the board, said the administrative change will make UNC-system schools more competitive in keeping outstanding faculty.

“This move will allow us to retain the top faculty,” he said. “And let the not-as-top faculty go.”

The board’s policy change comes after the UNC system retained only 37 percent of faculty who received job offers from other universities last year.

The system’s faculty-retention fund, which helps schools retain faculty who have received outside offers, has lost more than $9 million since 2006.

Universities absorbed a state funding cut of 15.6 percent this year, and faculty have not received state pay raises in three years.

Suzanne Ortega, senior vice president for academic affairs for the system, wrote in an email that the move will begin to improve the system’s retention rates.

“Bottom line is that it should help us keep our terrific faculty,” she said.

Mitchell said the board decided to alter the proof of interest policy after school administrators said requiring faculty to provide written offers was counterproductive.

“If you’ve got the prospective employer to the point of making a written offer, you are probably going to lose the professor,” he said.

William Kier, chairman of the biology department at UNC-CH, said administrators generally know the faculty who are receiving offers from other universities.

“It is always challenging to retain faculty,” he said. “In the past we have tried to act preemptively to keep our best faculty.”

Kier said each faculty member has different needs, including more research funding.

“We generally just talk to the faculty member about what matters to them,” he said.

The loosening of the policy also creates the possibility that faculty could fake interest from another school in order to obtain a salary increase, but Mitchell said provosts and department heads are capable of detecting false offers.

“Provosts and department heads assure us that they can tell through a variety of means whether an offer is legitimate or not,” he said.

Contact the State & National Editor at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.