AAUP: Appalachian State Withdraws Staff Bonus, While Keeping Chancellor Raise

Published Thursday, November 19, 2015 at 11:34 am

*Release from Appalachian State University chapter of American Association of University Professors

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, Appalachian State University’s Director of Human Resources sent an email to university staff explaining that a one-time bonus of $750 that had been promised to staff in November would not be awarded due to legal reasons. This payment would have used university funds to match a one-time $750 bonus given by the legislature to all state employees.

In his email (reproduced in full below), Mr. Bachmeier explained: “I have recently been told by legal counsel that we are not allowed to make additional lump sum payments to employees subject to the State Human Resources Act (SHRA), above the legislated $750 bonus.”

He added: “Unfortunately, my interpretation of Appalachian’s ability to provide an additional bonus for SHRA employees was incorrect. Any such payments fall exclusively within the purview of the North Carolina General Assembly, regardless of the source of funding. You will still receive the $750 bonus that was funded by the N.C. Legislature.”

An email sent on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 18 requesting that Mr. Bachmeier explain the legal basis of this decision remain unanswered as of Thursday morning.

In addition to the issues of competency this decision raises, the Appalachian State University chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is concerned about the glaring income disparities on our campus this decision highlights.

This decision stands in stark contrast to the largesse recently bestowed upon University of North Carolina chancellors. On Friday, October 30, the UNC Board of Governors voted to approve significant pay raises, ranging from 8 to 19 percent, for 12 UNC chancellors. Chancellor Sheri Everts of Appalachian State was given a 17.5 percent pay raise (or $50,000), which increases her base pay from $285,000 to $335,000.

As an organization concerned with preserving the quality of public universities, Appalachian State’s chapter of the AAUP is deeply concerned that these decisions are contrary to the public good and fail to serve the citizens of our community, whether they work or study at Appalachian State.

Whether it be in food services, housekeeping, physical plant, or countless university offices, staff directly impact the wellbeing of our students. They are among the university’s poorest paid employees. They have not received significant raises in years (even the $750 awarded by the legislature is a one-time bonus that does not affect their base pay, contrary to the salary increases awarded to the chancellors).

We feel that it is contrary to basic principles of equity to raise the base pay of our university’s most highly paid administrators while reneging on a modest bonus for our community’s least paid employees.

At a demonstration held on Sanford Mall on Nov. 3, Appalachian State faculty and students asked Chancellor Everts to renounce her raise. The petition was presented to Provost Darrell Kruger. The chancellor has yet to respond.

Also on Nov. 3, the Faculty Senate of Eastern Carolina University passed a resolution condemning the pay raise awarded to Chancellor Steve Ballard. At a recent meeting of the Faculty Council of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chancellor Carol Folt conceded that the raise consisted of “boat loads” of money.

To our knowledge, no UNC chancellor has yet to renounce these raises. Many have questioned whether these raises are the best use of resources in a state with a constitutional commitment to provide higher education “free of expense” and at a time of rampant student debt.

Appalachian State’s chapter of the AAUP believes that Chancellor Everts is deeply committed to higher education and has been responsive to the concerns of faculty, staff, and students. We are fortunate to have one of the finest chancellors in the system. We hope that Chancellor Everts will take leadership of the issue of income inequity on campus by making our staff’s wellbeing a priority and renouncing her $50,000 pay raise.

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