Outrageous moves to foster runaway salaries for administrators

Michael Behrent, the president of the Appalachian State University chapter of the AAUP, and John Steen, Program Coordinator of Scholars for North Carolina’s Future (with contribution from Jim Carmichael, professor at UNC Greensboro and president of the AAUP’s North Carolina Conference) have an op-ed today in The News & Observer or Raleigh, NC entitled “Outrageous move to foster runaway salaries for UNC administrators.” They are looking at possible moves to increase administrative salaries. They write:

A decision to boost the salaries of those who are already among the UNC system’s best-paid employees would come as the state is funding public universities less and asking North Carolinian families to pay more. A report released in May by the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities shows that between 2008 and 2015, per-student funding for higher education in North Carolina declined 23.4 percent. According to the same report, tuition at North Carolina’s public universities shot up over the same period by 35.8 percent.

Meanwhile, faculty salaries over the past seven years have remained stagnant, rising a paltry estimated 2.5 percent. At the same time, UNC institutions, like universities across the country, are increasingly confining teaching to contingent faculty, who are paid a fraction of what tenure-track colleagues earn. A recent report at Appalachian State University showed the number of student credit hours generated by contingent faculty has risen from 35 percent in 2006 to 43 percent.

This isn’t happening only in North Carolina. There is a protest this morning by PSC CUNY, the union of City University of New York faculty members outside the system chancellor’s house. In a news release today, Union president Barbara Bowen says:

“In the past six years, faculty salaries have remained stagnant, while the CUNY chancellor’s salary has grown by 49%. That’s not right. Nor is it right to continue to raise students’ tuition, which has increased by a whopping 38%.”

Behrent et al argue that:

Runaway salaries for top university administrators and presidents are as problematic as lavish compensation for CEOs. The issue is not simply, as defenders will contend, that the “market” dictates such largesse. Rather, the problem is that the administrators who occupy the commanding heights of our universities engage in what economist Thomas Piketty calls “rent-seeking”: They use their positions of authority and wealth to enhance their authority and wealth.

The situation is out-of-hand almost everywhere. Our outrage needs to become apparent and its impact effective. All of us need to be joining forces with our unions and the AAUP to fight for just pay and tuition structures in colleges and universities throughout the country.

Let us know here at the Academe blog what the situation is on your campus–and about what is being done to correct problems there.

One thought on “Outrageous moves to foster runaway salaries for administrators

  1. The daily news summaries that I have been posting have included several articles on legislative initiatives in various states that are being sold to the public as needed controls on administrative salaries, but what most of this legislation is actually doing is codifying that the baseline for such salaries is the highest possible “peer group” available nationally. So, in Ohio, for example, the legislation will identify the peer group for Ohio State as including not just the largest public universities in the U.S. but also the top-tier private universities, including the Ivies. I believe that this is at least some of what is occurring in North Carolina as well.

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