Raises for faculty unlikely without state budget

Gianna Holiday, Reporter

It has been over a year and a half since App State’s faculty has seen a raise. 

A 4.99% merit pool raise that the chancellor announced last September is unlikely to be seen before late April when the General Assembly reconvenes because currently, there is no state budget. 

“This has really been an absolute top priority, and I think that is something that is very much on the minds of faculty,” Faculty Senate Chair Michael Behrent said. 

Behrent explained that a 4.99% merit pool raise does not mean every faculty member gets a 4.99% raise. 

Instead, Chancellor Sheri Everts will make money available equivalent to the 4.99% of the total amount of money spent on faculty salaries. Money will then be divided up by departments. Department chairs can then allocate money to individual faculty members based on merit.

“We looked at the numbers in the Faculty Senate, and we found out that App State’s faculty salaries are very low,” Behrent said. “There was even talk of how hard it was to recruit people for this campus because people were getting better salaries elsewhere.”

 In the Feb. 10 Faculty Senate meeting, Behrent provided an update on the merit pool raise. 

Campus-based raises are historically approved by the UNC Board of Governors as part of its “annual raise process,” which approves increases to base pay.

“Since 2008, with the economic crisis of that year, we found that there were very few raises and any of raises that were given, while appreciated, did not keep up with inflation or the cost of living,” Behrent said. “Since this time raises have been, at best, stagnant.”

The merit-pool raise will be funded primarily by an internal reallocation of existing campus resources. This includes student fee-financed funds, such as tuition and state appropriations.  

However, base salary internal raises must be approved by the board of governors as part of its annual raise process.

 The memo from the board only comes when there is a state budget. Currently, there is no state budget as the General Assembly recessed without passing one.

“There was news at the fall meeting that this pot existed for faculty raises, but that is contingent upon the state budget,” said Mallory Sadler, executive assistant to the associate vice chancellor. “There’s never been a year in North Carolina where there has not had an approved state budget until this point. So, it’s a weird and interesting situation that nobody saw coming, so we are all trying to figure out what to do in lieu of this because it’s a real problem. Faculty and staff need raises.”

The Ad Hoc Committee on Faculty Salaries presented a resolution to the Faculty Senate, which the Senate approved. The resolution called for “the administration to determine a plan to issue raises in the absence of a state budget for this year and to communicate this to the ad hoc committee on faculty salaries.”

 It also called upon the administration “to explore with the Faculty Senate ways in which under the current funding model and peer-group we might increase our standing which is currently at the bottom of the system as well as our peer-group.”

A faculty meeting was held in Grandfather Mountain Ballroom Feb. 14 to address these concerns. 

“It’s very important to recognize and reward the work of our faculty, and salary increases are a significant way to do this, and a goal Appalachian’s administration shares with the faculty,” said Heather Norris, interim provost and executive vice chancellor.  “The Faculty Senate chair and I have talked about our shared goal of increasing faculty salaries and the Chancellor’s and my ongoing commitment to providing faculty raises within the authority afforded to the Chancellor. Our end goal is to pay faculty a competitive market rate.”