Pope Center Releases Report on UNC Faculty Compensation

Raleigh — University of North Carolina faculty compensation compares favorably with compensation at peer institutions around the country, says a new report by the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Using data from the AAUP (American Association of University Professors), Jon Sanders compared average faculty compensation (salaries plus benefits), adjusted for living costs, with compensation at peer universities around the country. He compared UNC campuses with institutions in the same Carnegie classification (a widely-used way of grouping higher education institutions).

Some of the findings are:

• UNC compensation compares well with peers
• Average compensation at most schools is above median of peers
• Full professors at Chapel Hill are near 80th percentile; NC State full professors are below median
• Eight campuses have reached 80th percentile for at least one faculty level
• Four campuses – NC Central, UNC-Charlotte, UNC-Pembroke, and Winston-Salem State – are at the 80th percentile for all faculty levels
• UNC-Asheville is below the mean in all three faculty levels

“The situation is not as dire as many commentators suggest,” says Jon Sanders in the report. “It’s not dire at all. When compared to compensation at peer institutions as identified by the widely-used Carnegie classifications of higher education institutions, overall, faculty compensation levels in the UNC system compare favorable or very favorably to those at peer institutions.”

The North Carolina General Assembly allocates funds for faculty compensation. For the 2007-2009 biennium, Erskine Bowles, UNC president, is seeking $87.8 million to boost faculty salaries. This report provides empirical information useful for legislators, administrators, taxpayers, and others.

Eight UNC institutions are already at the 80th percentile in at least one of their three faculty levels. The report indicates that schools having one or more faculty levels at the 80th percentile are:

• Appalachian State (associate professors and assistant professors)
• East Carolina (full and assistant professors)
• Fayetteville State (associate and assistant professors)
• NC Central (all three faculty levels)
• UNC-Charlotte (all three faculty levels)
• UNC-Pembroke (all three faculty levels)
• Western Carolina (assistant professors)
• Winston-Salem State (all three faculty levels).

At four schools, however, average compensation of one or more faculty levels was below the mean and median levels of peer institutions. Those were:

• Elizabeth City State (full professors)
• NC A&T State (full and associate professors)
• NC State (full professors)
• UNC-Asheville (all three faculty levels).

Sanders, a research analyst and policy editor with the John Locke Foundation, also compared the faculty compensation with the peer institutions selected by a consultant to the university system, Dennis Jones. The consultant identified 14 to 16 peer institutions for each campus. Under this comparison, the UNC campuses did not do as well. Twenty-three of the 45 faculty levels examined (at a total of eleven schools) were below the peer mean or peer median.

Sanders considers the Carnegie comparisons more relevant for deciding whether compensation is competitive with other schools. He observes that faculty members are open to offers from many schools, not just from designated peer institutions. “UNC-Chapel Hill is not competing against only a dozen or so institutions for faculty,” said Sanders.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

To view the press conference held in conjunction with the release of this report, click here.