As a general rule, professors are not paid all that well. Some are but many are not. Part of this disparity is due to market factors that influence hiring, part of it is due to the fact that states have continually reduced their subsidies, and part of this is because we receive benefits that other professions don’t--like a flexible schedule.
For these reasons, and others, I’ve typically been less than sympathetic about faculty complaints about pay.
There are, however, exceptions. Here is one. If you have followed what has happened to the North Carolina system you will know that 1) republicans took over control of the legislature and governorship a while back, 2) they summarily dismissed a very popular and very effective system chancellor, and that 3) most North Carolina faculty haven’t received a raise in years (ranging from 5 to 7 years on some campuses.)
When I worked in Tennessee, to state was hit with a serious economic downturn. The cut funding to higher education because that was one place where funds were not encumbered. In a short period of time, about 20% of the faculty left the state.
So, what gives? Two things. First, one cannot help to believe that part of what motivates the republican controlled legislature of North Carolina is political retribution. Yes, retribution against universities.
It’s no secret, and we cover this in our book, that universities are overwhelmingly supporters of democrats and of the democratic party. They mobilize students on behalf of the DNC, they invite democrats to give talks and to dinners, they provide the intellectual arguments for democratic candidates and office holders, and they dump large sums of cash into DNC coffers. Hey, if you are a democrat what is not to like?
If your a republican, however, what is there to like?
And this is the problem. When professors and universities align themselves ENTIRELY with one political party over another they open themselves up to political retaliation.
I’m not the only professor to have made this point. A recent editorial in Nature or Nature Genetics (I can’t recall right now) made the same point.
Don’t take my comments as supportive of what the governor and legislature have done. I don’t like crass politics and political retribution. My point, however, is simple: If you play politics, then you get consequences that are political.
Now comes news that the Board granted some rather remarkable raises to most of the Chancellors of the UNC system (we call them college presidents). Raises ranged from 8% to almost 20%. We are talking about raises that range from 40K to 70K. And don’t forget that these folks also get lavish expense accounts, houses, bonuses, vehicle stipends............... cha-ching.
What did faculty and staff receive? A one time $750 bonus. Cha-No-Ching.
No raises in years + inflation = Faculty and staff in North Carolina have lost a lot of economic ground. This is shameful.
The North Carolina system was a gem. If one thing will kill a great system it is partisan politics.
John Paul Wright and Matt DeLisi
Professors of Crime and Criminology