App State senior lecturer unable to keep up with Blowing Rock real estate prices


Anna Muckenfuss

Ralph Lentz is a professor in the history department. Lentz was forced to sell the home he built because he could no longer afford the mortgage payments.

Anna Muckenfuss, Appalachian Weekly News Producer

A senior lecturer in the Department of History was forced to move out of the house he built in 2018 because he could not afford the mortgage payments.

Ralph Lentz said he makes about $39,800 per year, which was not enough for him to keep his home in Blowing Rock. Lentz lives in a cabin in Meat Camp, which is 9.5 miles away from Boone. Lentz said he hopes to move into his grandmother’s house when he gets back on his feet.

Lentz, an App State alumnus, said when he first started teaching as an adjunct professor in 1999, he had no benefits or insurance, and had to teach seven classes per semester.

“I was slipping; it was not good for me or the students,” Lentz said. “I wasn’t able to do as good a job because I was tired. I was overworked.”

Now that he is a senior lecturer, Lentz’s salary and retirement benefits increased, but he said he has no savings.

“If I have a serious medical problem and can’t work, I lose everything,” Lentz said. “There’s no way to save on that kind of salary to have a safety net.”

Lentz said due to the cost of living in Boone, other faculty at App State are leaving, some of whom are award-winning scholars.

“There are two faculty members from my department who are leaving because of the pay rate,” Lentz said. “They found better pay at a different university.”

Despite his financial difficulties, Lentz has no plans to leave Boone or App State.

“My family is here and my family roots go back literally hundreds of years,” Lentz said. “I love teaching, I love what I do; it’s my calling. I value my family and my history and home more than I do money.”