OPINION: With rising administrative pay and stagnant faculty salaries, App State administration has its priorities wrong


Tommy Mozier, Senior Reporter

Like many schools in North Carolina, my high school had a problem. Every year, experienced, well-liked teachers left in droves, replaced by less-talented candidates. The best chemistry teacher we had decided it was worth it to drive an hour to Virginia every day instead of living on a North Carolina teacher’s salary.

I did not expect this problem to follow me to college. When deciding on schools, App State’s average class size caught my eye. I heard from alumni and students about the personal relationships they developed with professors. They met professors who cared for their students and wanted to see them succeed. It became a deciding factor in my college decision; those people were largely correct.

Unfortunately, it seems a university whose reputation is built on training educators does not want to pay its own educators what they deserve.

App State is running less like an educational institution and more like a corporation, according to the Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis report on faculty pay. Upper and middle level administrator pay is rising, and the professors, adjuncts and lecturers struggle to keep up with the rising cost of living in Boone.

That sounds more like Amazon than a university that prides itself on a 16-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Students interact with professors, adjuncts and lecturers every day. They are the people who dictate our college experiences. Professors are more influential to students than any administrator or chancellor will ever be. Chancellor Sheri Everts could take another job tomorrow and the daily lives of students would not change. Just ask any student at UNC-Chapel Hill how different their lives are since Chancellor Carol Folt resigned in January. But if a professor with whom you have built a strong relationship leaves because they cannot afford mortgage payments or cannot be fully present for their students because they are forced to work a second job, the student’s college experience fundamentally changes.

This is not to say administrators are not vital to running App State, but if the university markets itself on its website as a place that “prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all,”  the university should place more emphasis on the people who actually prepare the students.

It is true that the North Carolina General Assembly is not doing any favors with funding for App State and other universities, but that argument lost most of its validity with the CERPA report. University administration has sent a clear message: the priority is not so much education as it is money.

In my three years at App State, I have met many professors who go out of their way to connect with and support students. Passionate professors who genuinely care for the well-being of their students and who are always available to give extra help to a struggling student. Professors who understand the stress college puts on students and do their best to curb that while still providing quality education.

App State risks losing one of its main draws, the one that ultimately kept me here after initially planning to transfer. A parent sending their child to App State to get an education may think twice if the university isn’t valuing educators like it should. A student paying their way through college or racking up student debt, may wonder why their tuition dollars are helping fund raises for administrators, but not professors.

App State may not see a mass faculty exodus like my high school did, but should faculty decide to leave, the blame is squarely on the administration. If the administration truly believes that “an outstanding faculty is the foundation of a great university,” as it stated in the 2008-12 strategic plan, and wants to continue to push our academics out from under the shadow of the football team, it cannot treat professors, adjuncts and lecturers like just another employee in a corporation.