Letter to the editor: Administration costs up, faculty salaries, budgets down

Dear ASU students: Your tuition has risen significantly in recent years. Meanwhile, state funding of higher education has shrunk, even as faculty salaries have barely kept up with the...
The Appalachian Online

Dear ASU students:

Your tuition has risen significantly in recent years. Meanwhile, state funding of higher education has shrunk, even as faculty salaries have barely kept up with the cost of living and the university relies increasingly on non-tenured instructors.

So where is your tuition money going?

Two recent news items give you a clue. On Friday, UNC’s Board of Governors approved a sharp increase in the salary ranges of top administrators across the system. On Sunday, the Watauga Democrat reported that Appalachian would be spending $200,000 on search firms and other costs related to fill three dean vacancies.

In short, much of your tuition money is going to costly and ever-rising administrative expenses, even as your professors’ salaries stagnate and academic budgets are slashed.

The rise in administrative expenses is part of a national trend. According to federal figures analyzed by The New England Center for Investigative Reporting, non-academic administrative salaries have doubled in the past 25 years. The same study reports that at Appalachian, the number of full-time administrators rose by 318.8 percent between 1987 and 2011, while enrollment increased by only 70.6 percent.

While it is important to have good administrators, it is even more important to invest in the university’s core education mission. Is the willingness to always give administrative expenses a pass in difficult financial times the best use of your tuition dollars?

The faculty can raise this issue, but only you, our students, can reverse this disturbing trend by making your voices heard.

Signed:

Dr. Michael C. Behrent (Associate Professor of History; president, ASU’S AAUP Chapter)

Dr. Greg Reck (Professor Emeritus of Anthropology; vice-president, ASU’s AAUP Chapter)

Dr. Sheila Phipps (Associate Professor of History)

Dr. Laura Ammon (Associate Professor of Religion)

Dr. Jari Eloranta (Professor of History)

Dr. Paul Gates (Professor of Communications)

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