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Appalachian State: Report Shows Administration’s Declining Support for Academics

Appalachian State University has prioritized the funding of administrative positions over academics and faculty salaries, a report released last week shows.

Meanwhile, faculty salaries have declined significantly relative to the university’s institutional peers and the cost of living.

The report, “A Review of Faculty Salaries and Budget Priorities at Appalachian: Trends in the Allocation of Positions and Funding,” was released last Wednesday by Appalachian State’s Center for Economic Research & Policy Analysis (CERPA).

The report reaches the following conclusions:

  • “Recent allocations of positions prioritize upper- and mid-level administration. Since 2014, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) upper- and mid-level administrative positions increased three times faster than FTE faculty positions. Among the three employment categories (SHRA, EHRA Non-Faculty and Faculty), faculty positions increased at the slowest rate.”
  • “Trends in allocations reveal recent shifts in budget priorities. In the five-year period between 2008-2013, funding for the academic budget grew faster than funding for each of the three support budgets (institutional, academic and student). In the most recent five-year period, funding for each of the three support budgets grew considerably faster than funding for the academic budget.”
  • In order to remedy the problem of faculty salary decline and to invest in academics in general, the report recommends “[r]eallocating the budget to better align campus funding with the mission of the university.” Specifically, it calls upon the administration to “identify 5% annual budget reductions in administrative and support budgets for three years and redirect these funds to academics and faculty salaries.”
  • The data analysis in the CERPA report sounds an alarm bell to anyone who cares about maintaining Appalachian State’s position as a premier state university.  The data shows that more must do more to support Appalachian’s core academic mission:
  • Faculty salaries are well below the university’s previously stated goal, in the 2008-2013 Strategic Plan, of being in the 80th percentile of its peer institutions.
  • The administration’s claim  that 76% of the university’s general budget goes to the Office of Academic Affairs hides the fact that, in recent years, Academic Affairs has prioritized administrative salaries and support programs, not academics and faculty salaries.
  • The administration has the ability to redirect funds from administrative and support budgets towards academics and faculty salaries, whether or not Appalachian get more funding from the state.

In the weeks ahead, Appalachian’s faculty will continue to ask the administration to prioritize the university’s academic mission, notably at the April 12 University Budget Presentations.