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.
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