UNC-CH Drops Out of the Top 10 in Faculty Salaries

UNC is falling behind its peers, including Duke University, in faculty salaries.

The chart below from the American Association of University Professors shows that:

  • Since 2010-11, average faculty salaries at UNC have fallen steadily – from sixth in the nation among our public and private peer universities to 11th, 12th and even 13th place.
  • Not only do we lag behind private universities like Duke, we also now trail public universities such as Virginia, Texas and Michigan.
  • The gap in actual dollars has grown dramatically.

In 2010-11, the average faculty salary at UNC was $109,200, compared to $138,100 at Duke. This year, the gap has more exploded by more than double: $138,200 at UNC compared to Duke’s $213,300.

Our average salary today is where Duke’s was in 2010-11.

This decline has come since a change in political control of the North Carolina General Assembly in 2010.

It is concerning, because the quality of our faculty determines the quality of the University and the quality of education that students receive.

Pay, of course, is not the only factor in recruiting and retaining excellent faculty members.

But, at the same time salaries have been lagging, faculty members at UNC have found themselves increasingly shut out of key academic decisions, such as the establishment of the School of Civic Life and Leadership.

And outside interference by trustees and legislators has exploded.

UNC fans like to see our athletic teams ranked in the top 10.

We should demand to see our faculty in the top 10 in salaries, respect and shared governance.

Supporting Institutional Neutrality and Student Success

On Thursday 23 May, the UNC Board of Governors voted 22-2 to replace the Regulation on Diversity and Inclusion (§300.8.5) of the UNC System Policy Manual and Code.  The new Regulation aims to strike a balance between what is referred to—in this Regulation and in contemporary discussions—as institutional neutrality, on one hand, and academic freedom and freedom of speech on the other.  The need to achieve a reasonable and proper balance between these principles is not new.  The new Regulation has been drafted in response to G.S.§116-300, which is new.  Indeed, G.S.§116-300 reaffirms statutes and freedoms already enshrined in state and federal law, including the Constitution of the United States.  One novel departure is clause (3a), which states: “The constituent institution shall remain neutral, as an institution, on the political controversies of the day.”

Institutional neutrality is championed by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), which offers this definition: “Institutional Neutrality is the idea that colleges and universities should not, as institutions, take positions on social and political issues unless those issues ‘threaten the very mission of the university and its values of free inquiry.’ ”  FIRE’s definition is grounded in the Kalven Report, which states: “These extraordinary instances apart [identified just below], there emerges, as we see it, a heavy presumption against the university taking collective action or expressing opinions on the political and social issues of the day, or modifying its corporate activities to foster social or political values, however compelling and appealing they may be.”

Understood properly, institutional neutrality is sensible, especially for public institutions such as those comprising the UNC System.  However, clause (3a) omits crucial circumstances where a university may take a position on social or political issues.  Indeed, the Kalven Report states that the university has an obligation to do so: “From time to time instances will arise in which the society, or segments of it, threaten the very mission of the university and its values of free inquiry.  In such a crisis, it becomes the obligation of the university as an institution to oppose such measures and actively to defend its interests and its values.”  These cases are rare, but not singular.  The very topic of the limits or restrictions of speech on campus is both a political controversy of the day and one whose outcome substantially impacts the functioning of the UNC institutions.  Note that FIRE recognizes the same exception where “those issues ‘threaten the very mission of the university and its values of free inquiry.’ ” 

For G.S.§116-300 to respect these established facts and parameters about freedom of speech, clause (3a) should state, “The constituent institution shall remain neutral, as an institution, on the political controversies of the day, except where it is necessary to protect the functioning or mission of the constituent institution or the values of free inquiry” or words having those effects.  While it is not the purview of the Board of Governors to amend legislation enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly, the Board is in a position to communicate the omission in clause (3a) to the North Carolina General Assembly for a friendly amendment.  In anticipation of that friendly amendment, the Board of Governors should swiftly amend §300.8.5 of the UNC System Policy Manual to reflect the exception recognized by FIRE and in the Kalven Report.

This omission has one other consequence.  Section VII of the newly adopted §300.8.5 overlooks the important exception of protecting or fulfilling the mission of the university.  As stated in G.S.§116-1, the mission of the UNC System “is to discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society.”  G.S.§116-1 also states that “Teaching and learning constitute the primary service that the university renders to society.”  Student success—that is, successful teaching and learning—depends on students feeling that they belong at the institution they attend.  One component is the assurance that their persons and viewpoints will be treated equally.  Sections I–V of the newly adopted §300.8.5 encode that.  Another component is the assurance that the constituent institution they attend is a supportive and welcoming place for all learners.  That assurance is accomplished through various expertly led programs at constituent institutions.  While it may be that certain changes will be necessary in order for UNC institutions to maintain institutional neutrality, these activities are overlooked in Section VII of the newly adopted §300.8.5 of the UNC System Policy Manual, which should also be swiftly amended accordingly. 

“Gutting” Diversity at UNC: Analysis and Commentary

A headline in The News & Observer summed it up: “UNC System board approves policy gutting DEI efforts at NC public universities.”

The Board of Governors – with little public discussion and without hearing from people who will be affected – voted May 23 to repeal diversity, equity and inclusion requirements that were adopted in 2019.

We at the Coalition for Carolina oppose this retreat from UNC’s commitment to fairness and equal opportunity for all. 

We will continue to advocate for programs and policies that promote diversity and protect against discrimination.

We’ve seen several excellent articles and commentary on the issue. They are summarized below, with links for further reading.

What the BOG Did; Why Students Protested and Two Members Objected

“The board approved the new policy, which emphasizes equality and nondiscrimination over the previous policy’s ideals of diversity and inclusion, as part of a dozen unrelated items on the consent agenda. A board committee took the first step to approve the policy at a meeting last month, doing so in less than five minutes and with no discussion ….

“Some students and other protesters gathered to denounce the decision, saying the system is ignoring the needs of minority groups on its campuses. Two protesters were arrested….

“Two (board) members, Joel Ford and Sonja Nichols, voted against the measure…. ‘As a Black woman … I just always want it to be a situation where all the voices are heard,’ Nichols said.”


A Board That Lacks Diversity Attacked Diversity

“The governing board of North Carolina’s public university system is woefully lacking in ideological diversity, and its members are far more reflective of the Republican leaders who appoint them than of the state and system they ought to represent.” 


“In other words, as has so often happened in the past, a powerful public body consisting overwhelmingly of older white men – a group that makes up perhaps 10% of the North Carolina population and that has benefited enormously in countless ways from the racism and sexism that permeated our society for centuries – confidently assured those still waiting to enjoy proportionate access to success and to the corridors of power that they simply need to be patient and allow ‘neutral’ and ‘colorblind’ rules to pave the way.”

It’s About Politics, Not Policy

“NC State likely spends more on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs than any other university in the 17-campus UNC System – $3.4 million in 2022-23. Yet that amounts to ‘less than one fifth of 1 percent of the total University budget,’ officials pointed out. For universities with multi-billion-dollar budgets, that’s budget dust.

“Yet the UNC System Board of Governors – and especially the Board of Trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill – are hellbent on erasing those requirements. That only underscores – yet again – just how political North Carolina’s public university governing boards have become.”


What Happens Next?

“The new policy goes into effect immediately and directs university chancellors to ensure their campuses comply with the new directives by Sept. 1. The UNC System’s legal affairs division is expected to issue guidance for compliance to campuses…. Any changes are meant to be made by the beginning of the upcoming academic year …. 

“The policy states that campus leaders will have to report to UNC System President Peter Hans any ‘reductions in force and spending, along with changes to job titles and position descriptions’ that result from implementing the policy, and how any ‘savings achieved’ from those actions could be ‘redirected to initiatives related to student success and wellbeing’.”


How Will the Decision Affect Jobs and Programs?

WRAL-TV anchor Lena Tillett speaks with Chair of the Carolina Black Caucus Trish Harris and UNC Trustee David Boliek on questions including “how many people will lose their jobs?” and “which programs will continue?”


UNC Trustees Were Out of Bounds – Again

“The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees did not have the authority to amend the university’s budget and divert millions of dollars in diversity, equity and inclusion funding to campus safety, UNC System President Peter Hans said Thursday, effectively nullifying the trustees’ action.”


Alumni Express “Profound Disappointment”

A group of concerned UNC Chapel Hill alumni expressed their “profound disappointment” in the Board of Governors’ vote.

They include graduates spanning over more than 55 years, including members of UNC’s Black Pioneers, former Congressman Mel Watt, incoming chair of the UNC Board of Visitors Alge Crumpler, former UNC Student Body President Dr. Justin Young, former UNC Associate Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Archie Ervin, retired Superior Court Judge Donnie Hoover and several current and former members of the Carolina Alumni Board of Directors. 

Following is their statement:

This statement is to express our profound disappointment with the May 23rd, 2024 decision by the UNC Board of Governors to abandon a decades-long commitment to making North Carolina’s public universities accessible to all.

The move to eliminate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs, staff and initiatives in the UNC System is a decision to walk away from the very resources that have historically contributed to the success of countless marginalized and underrepresented students.

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion’s mission at the state’s flagship institution, UNC- Chapel Hill, innocuously champions “inclusive excellence.” It seeks to “celebrate all members of the Carolina community, to broaden our collective understanding, and foster a sense of belonging by uplifting diverse identities, cultures, experiences and perspectives.”

Thursday’s BOG’s actions imperil this vision.

Furthermore, the Board’s vote, sequestered from the input of opposing voices, demonstrates a callous disregard for the thousands of alumni who have benefited from UNC’s diversity initiatives. Our university stands tall, buoyed by the accomplishments of these alumni whose exceptional talents bring honor to the UNC name.

The very commitment that the Board’s decision ended Thursday is the platform that has propelled our alumni to serve with distinction in numerous leadership roles within North Carolina and the nation at large.

UNC has emerged as a public and national model in democratizing education and serving the greater public interest as the university of the “people.” Why not honor the achievements of DEI programs such as the Carolina Covenant, an academic scholarship program, or Project Uplift, a 50-plus-year-old initiative —created to empower high school seniors to believe UNC’s inclusive values would support and welcome them in their higher education pursuits? Why not be proud of the accomplishments of Carolina’s Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious faculty diversity pipeline programs in the country?

As the Board of Governors, you are accountable to the people you serve. The UNC System owes it to the state and to the nation to honor its commitment to be of service to all students who have earned their way into some of the best higher education institutions in our nation.

Future generations of North Carolinians will see this decision as a “slap in the face” and will not feel welcomed, supported, and most importantly valued, because of Thursday’s Board’s action to eliminate the historical commitment to all N.C. citizens.

Submitted by Concerned Carolina Alumni who remain actively engaged in the University and its welfare.

Contact: Archie Ervin, ’99 PHD awervinjr@gmail.com

Crystal Cene, ’95
Alge Crumpler, ‘00
Bernadette Cobb, ‘84
Nicole Dozier, ’88
Sam Fulwood, ‘78
Atrayus Goode, ’07
The Honorable Donnie Hoover, ‘71
Edith Hubbard, ’66
Kwame Jackson, ‘96
Walter A. Jackson, ‘67
Phillip McAlpin, ‘75
George McDaniel, ‘67
Martha Peck, MD (’73 BS, ’78 MS, ’04 MD)
Christopher Riddick, ’00
Janet Roach, ‘88
Camille Roddy, ‘87
Rochelle Riley, ‘81
Janet Southerland, ‘82 (‘84 BSDH, ‘89 DDS, ‘94 MPH, ‘05 PHD)
Chuck Wallington, ‘84
The Honorable Melvin Watt, ‘67
Reyna Walters-Morgan, ‘99
Stick Williams, ‘75
Justin Young, MD ‘02
Allan Younger, ‘90