AAUP/AFT stresses need for higher faculty salary decompression in meeting with President Benson

Salary decompression for faculty is not a luxury. It is an essential tool that is used to keep track of salary discrepancies across colleges and academic departments within our university, and to compare CCU faculty salaries with those at higher education institutions across the nation. Salary decompression helps CCU remain competitive and continue to attract quality faculty.

When CCU launched its salary decompression scheme, nearly a decade ago, it made national news and was heralded as “a sustainable solution to relieve compressed salaries, especially in a period of budget cuts, shrinking state investment and rising tuition.”

Today, however, there are added reasons why faculty salary decompression must take center stage in CCU’s planning. As inflation and cost-of-living indicators are growing rapidly, our faculty need to be financially supported. There is no better time for the University leadership and the Board of Trustees to show that they value the faculty’s contribution CCU’s overall financial success.

In 2021, it was determined that the total funds needed to address CCU faculty salary decompression at 100% were $2,268,393. However, the Board of Trustees only approved $500,000, which represents just 22% of decompression needs. The AAUP/AFT finds that disappointing, especially in light of the fact that CCU is seeing record numbers of freshmen on its campus, as well as growing student retention rates. The faculty have played a major role in these increases, which enabled our University to grow stronger, despite the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Executive Committee of the AAUP/AFT raised this issue with President Mike Benson at a meeting on December 8. The central argument put forth by AAUP/AFT was that salary decompression must be felt by all at CCU, including teaching/research associates and graduate assistants. Additionally, the criteria by which the Board of Trustees determines the funding allocated to annual salary decompression should be demystified and explained to the faculty.

In response, President Benson agreed that CCU faculty should be compensated fairly in several ways, including financial. He expressed commitment to the goal of advocating to the Board of Trustees in favor of a sustained level of salary decompression for faculty and staff. The president also suggested that, a month into the spring 2023 semester, the leadership of AAUP/AFT should hold a meeting with him and other University officials who are responsible for the “procedural intricacies” of budgetary issues at CCU.


Author: Joseph Fitsanakis

Professor, Intelligence and Security Studies program, Coastal Carolina University