On Monday, UNC-system administrators defended their 2015-17 tuition increase requests to the UNC Board of Governors, citing faculty retention as a top priority. Tuition for in-state undergraduates will go up an average of nearly 4 percent across the system next school year, including a 3.5 percent increase at UNC-CH.
In the past six years, UNC-system faculty have received one across-the-board raise, and some faculty received a small pay bump this year.
“Every week, we’re fighting to retain our faculty as they’re recruited with higher salaries to other universities,” said UNC-CH Provost Jim Dean.
He said his office deals with at least one situation of a faculty member considering leaving each week: “There’s one on my desk right now.”
UNC-CH has struggled to retain faculty in the last six years as its peer institutions, such as the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Texas at Austin, have offered better salaries and research incentives. In 2012-13, UNC lost more faculty than it was able to keep.
Among its peers, the University ranks ninth out of 15 for its full professor salaries, 12th out of 15 for associate professor pay and 14th out of 15 for assistant professor pay, Dean said.
Rick Niswander, vice chancellor for administration and finance at East Carolina University, said 84 faculty receiving research grants have left ECU in the past five years — often citing not only lower salaries in North Carolina but also a lack of expectation for future pay raises.
“We’re starting to lose people to schools that are like us, not schools that are above us,” he said. “That is very, very troubling.”
Sheri Everts, Appalachian State University chancellor, said 34 faculty have left the school in the last two years, and they all went to universities outside the UNC system.
“It was almost all about the money,” she said.
UNC-CH has gotten more aggressive in retaining faculty in the last year, Dean said — 20 professors left Chapel Hill after the 2013-14 academic year, compared with 48 professors the year before.
He said the student members of the Tuition and Fee Advisory Task Force strongly supported the tuition hike.
Tuition and fee increases were slated for a range of other campus needs, including counseling programs.
Warwick Arden, provost at N.C. State University, said the school is significantly below the recommended ratio for counselors to students, and students in need of urgent counseling often have two- to three-week waits — but the extra tuition revenue would allow them to hire five more full-time counseling staff.
Board member Marty Kotis said he hoped ASU’s requested tuition increase would support demand for the school’s counseling services. Nine students have died during the current academic year, and Everts replied that counseling had been accounted for in the tuition proposal.
“You can’t really place a price on a student’s death, but we need to be doing everything we can to ensure it doesn’t happen in the future,” Kotis said.