“But their average debt ratio is about $67,000 for two years. That doesn’t include their undergraduate loans. So they come out owing more than a year’s salary in terms of debt.”
Richman said the school is also having problems with faculty retention.
“They come in, they work very hard, we mentor them, we provide a lot of support, they get super successful and they get promoted,” he said. “And then other universities with more money, mostly the privates — the Brown School (at) Washington University in St. Louis, USC in California — their salary scale is much higher than ours, and they basically steal our people.”
The School of Social Work will use $500,000 of the donation to provide early career awards, which encourage junior faculty to stay at UNC. The awards consist of a five-year salary increase and a stipend for research and travel.
“A little bit more salary, a little more research support, and we have a better shot of competing with the privates,” Richman said.
Sharon Thomas, assistant dean of recruitment, admissions and financial aid, said increasing the scholarship money allows students in the School of Social Work to give back to their community and the University.
“A good number of our graduates stay local, you know, they stay within the Triangle or they stay within the state of North Carolina,” Thomas said.
“So a good number of them will continue to utilize that education and training, and reinvesting that back into the state.”
The final $350,000 of the donation will pay for initiatives proposed by faculty. These can include programs for both the school and the community.
School of Social Work Professor Gary Cuddeback said he thinks the money should be spent on research.
“I’d like it used to support faculty research, particularly in an environment where funding for innovative research has flatlined or been reduced,” he said.
“This gift will go a long way to stimulating important research that the faculty is doing.”