The oft-heard claim that universities tend to be cocoons where there is too little “real world” experience or connection is only underlined by the recent awarding of huge raises to administrators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Trustees defend the raises as deserved and necessary to prevent top talent from being lured away.
It’s not as if there are that many jobs going wanting at $300,000-plus salaries. And where are trustees getting wind of officials being breathlessly recruited from within the administrative staff?
It’s also true that other businesses lose people to competitors all the time and don’t view it as the sky falling. And people leave jobs for many reasons other than money.
Most eye-catching, of course, is the 10 percent raise for Bubba Cunningham, director of athletics, whose salary will go to $642,268 a year. That’s more than the base pay of Chancellor Carol Folt ($570,000). Vice Chancellor Joel Curran, the staff public relations person who was brought in to help manage the hugely embarrassing athletics-academic scandal, is going to $340,200.
There are likely to be consequences from this kind of action. Legislators gave state employees no pay raise and a one-time bonus of $750. They’re going to hear from those employees, and UNC officials may hear from lawmakers – and probably should.
The university is not an island. This kind of action from trustees demonstrates at best a sign that the board is entirely out of touch with the citizens the university is supposed to serve. No one expects top administrators to be overworked and underpaid. They aren’t.