App State Administrators (But Not Faculty!) Paid Well Above Averages, CUPA Data Show

Appalachian State faculty salaries, when adjusted for inflation, have been in decline for a decade. Our salaries are now lower than those at most of our peer institutions.  After the 2008 recession, things were hard, and we all did more with less.  Now we’re in an era of economic prosperity and everyone is benefitting from this. Except the faculty at Appalachian. Our peer institutions gave their faculty raises. Faculty peers’ salaries have kept up with inflation. Ours have not. We didn’t mind not having money when everyone was in the same boat. But over this decade the administration has continued to hire new administrators and support staff at overly generous salaries. They have funded new initiatives and prioritized giving Athletics the money it needs–all while telling us that they have no money for those of us who perform the core mission of the institution. Too painful to believe?  Take a look at some numbers.

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) collects data from a variety of higher education institutions and reports findings that reflect aggregate salary information. CUPA data reveal that App State faculty salary averages hover around CUPA averages while App State executive-level administrators are compensated well above CUPA averages.

When looking at the data for 2017-18 faculty salaries from the CUPA Faculty in Higher Education Survey report, we see that App State faculty salaries are right around the average salaries for all Master’s level universities (our CUPA group). Of course, we like to think we are better than the typical Master’s level university, so it would ideal if App State faculty (and all employees on our campus) were paid quite a bit more than the average salary in our general CUPA group of Master’s level institutions.   

In 2017-18, the average App State full professor salary was $98,383. This is 2.3% above the CUPA average for full professors at Master’s level universities ($96,197). App State associate professors on average earned 2.6% above the CUPA average ($79,102 at App State compared to the group average of $77,066), and our assistant professors earned 1.4% below CUPA average ($69,252 at App State compared to the group average of $70,220). CUPA data did not show an average salary for full-time NTT faculty at App State.

However, App State executive-level administrative salaries tend to far exceed CUPA averages. CUPA averages for executive-level administrator salaries in 2017-18 were reported on Higher Ed Jobs. CUPA’s 2017-18 Administrators in Higher Education Survey used data from 1,187 institutions for 197 executive and senior-level administrative positions, and shows us average salaries for specific administrative positions by type of institution. Comparing the CUPA averages for 2017-18 executive-level administrator salaries at Master’s level institutions to App State administrators’ 2017-18 salaries, which are reported in the Raleigh News & Observer online database of UNC salaries, we see that our executive-level administrators tend to make far more than the CUPA average salary in our CUPA group of Master’s level institutions, even while faculty salaries in any given rank hover around CUPA averages. For instance:

  • CUPA average Chancellor-Single Institution/Campus within System= $300,000; ours=$345,313 (15% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Chief Contracts/Grants= $79,656; ours=$91,108 (14% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Dean of Graduate School = $135,000; ours=$175,200 (30% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Chief Athletics Admin=$116,725; ours=$270,612 (132% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Chief Diversity Officer= $98,450; ours= $148,675 (51% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Chief HR Officer = $111,395; ours=$149,086  (34% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Dean of Honors=$110,642; ours=$140,000 (27% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Chief Information Officer = $137,112; ours=$173,233  (26% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Dean of Business= $179,685; ours=$226,645 (26% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Dean of Education=$105,000; ours=$171,990 (64% above CUPA ave)
  • CUPA average Dean of Arts & Sciences= $101,366; ours=$187,500 (85% above CUPA ave)

This is only a sample of App State administrators, of course. Go see the data for yourself.  Look at the CUPA average executive-level administrator salaries here. Be sure to look at the average salary for a specific administrative position in the Master’s column (not, for instance, the “all institutions” column or the column showing institutions that award only Associate’s degrees).  You can check the average salaries of other non-faculty professional positions, such a coaches, advisors, student success professionals and Title IX coordinators, here

Our executive-level administrators may be doing fantastic jobs and deserve every penny that they’re being paid. Faculty might be willing to celebrate these above-average administrator salaries on our campus, if our salaries were similarly above average. The problem is not that our administrators are paid well above CUPA averages.  The problem is that upper administrators are being paid well above our CUPA group averages while faculty are not.  In fact, we are told that there’s just not enough money to pay faculty.

While there are, of course, variations across departments, with some faculty being paid further above their corresponding CUPA average than others, the point is that on the whole faculty members are not being compensated as well compared to CUPA averages as many of our executive-level administrators are.

App State is one of the better institutions in our group of Master’s level institutions, so it makes sense to compensate our employees more than the CUPA average; as a better-than-average institution we have better-than-average faculty and administrators. While faculty perform the core mission of the University, at salaries that hover around CUPA group averages, the University’s upper administration has made sure that upper administrators are well compensated.    

On Feb. 25 at 4pm the Chancellor will be addressing a special Faculty Senate meeting on the Faculty Salary Crisis. Will she attempt to explain why her hands are tied, why she can’t do anything to raise faculty salaries? You might want to show up and see if she’s able to convince you that while she’s able to take care of executive-level administrators and support staff, paying many of them well above average, she is not able to take care of faculty.

If you check these figures and think any of these numbers are for any reason inaccurate or misleading, give us some data.  We welcome all facts and data!

Note: This post is a report on matters of interest to the AAUP chapter, not an official statement by the Chapter.