Pity the poor faculty of the University of North Carolina system, who have only gotten one across-the-board raise in the last four years, and whose average wages have not risen since 2009. Throw in a Republican legislature, a Republican-majority Board of Governors, and a “behind closed door” raise for many of the system’s top administrators, and you have all the trappings of a great injustice.
Except that, when you peel back another layer or two of the onion, another picture emerges. That’s what Stephanie Keaveney did in her article, “Faculty Salaries Reflect Reality, Not Politics.” She discovered that the faculty is merely undergoing the same wage dynamics as the rest of the country since the 2008 economic collapse. Prior to that, the faculty made enormous gains in pay, especially relative to the rest of the working public.
Furthermore, just because they don’t get an across-the-board, system-wide raise doesn’t mean they’re not getting raises. Keaveney found many different programs and funds for increasing faculty salaries. One change, perhaps: the trend tends to be more toward merit- or competition-based raises. Perhaps that’s how it should be, as it is in the private world: with exemplary performers getting a little extra on the first and fifteenth of the month, and the slackers, problems, and incompetents getting what they got.