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Board of Trustees approves increased salary range for tenured professors

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A recent effort to mitigate salary concerns, which would increase the salary range for tenured and tenure-track professors in the College of Arts and Sciences, was approved during a Sept. 27 UNC Board of Trustees University Affairs Committee meeting.

“This body has received several of these requests over the course of the past year, as faculty salaries across the institution have not been adjusted for several years,” Jennifer Halsey Evans, who introduced the motion, said at the meeting.

Under this new policy, the associate professor's minimum salary will be 20 percent more than the assistant professor's minimum. The full professor minimum salary will be 20 percent more than the associate professor minimum.

Chair of the Department of Classics and Faculty Council member Donald Haggis said salary compression has been an issue at UNC for the past 40 years. 

“Establishing minimums in each of the professorial ranks in the tenure stream is a good idea and is clearly an effort to respond to salary compression and salary oppression,” Haggis said.

He also said there were no merit salary increases from 2013 to 2018. 

During the five-year period, Haggis said the annual raise process offered a 1.3 percent rise, while cost of living was increasing by two percent. This difference caused salaries to drop below the average set by the Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE), an organization that compiles data from universities comparable to UNC. 

Professor of English and comparative literature and member of the Faculty Council Jessica Wolfe said that, given inflation over the past several years, the cost of healthcare and education and the fact that professors are currently saving for retirement, there is a lot of pressure on wage-earning adults of all kinds to make more money.

“What that across-the-board adjustment will do is, it will move everybody up into the AAUDE average — but also allow for an equitable distribution of salary across those ranks,” Haggis said.

However, if UNC’s peer institutions are also raising their salaries, the University will still remain behind. If UNC only advances to stay behind other institutions, it is not really going to help faculty salaries, Wolfe said.

Wolfe, who has been at UNC since 1998, said the proposal constituted an “impressive” change to current practices.

Evans described the change as an effort to ensure salary ranges are based on “current, relevant market data.” She said the range allows the University to remain competitive for faculty in their recruitment and retention efforts. 

With the University’s newly competitive salaries, retention can increase and the risk of losing faculty due to salary is minimized, professor of public policy and member of the Faculty Council Douglas Lauen said. 

In the past decade, 42 percent of faculty in the Department of Classics went on to other institutions, Haggis said. 

“I'm not sure that it was entirely salary, but salary certainly had a lot to do with it,” he said. “If you're continuously frustrated because of salary compression, I think it is an impetus to move, and retention issues in the University normally center on salary.”

Most professors are not in this job strictly for the money, Lauen said. He said that though everybody wants to make more money, professors are in the business of education and research because they love to do those two things.

“It's a challenge and a risk of losing somebody if salaries are too low, and I think that UNC is constantly trying to keep up with our peers,” he said.

@dailytarheel | university@dailytarheel.com

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