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Colleges Seeking Instructor Salary Support

Instructor salary support is on the wish list of a growing number of colleges and universities. Recruiting and retaining faculty members are growing increasingly difficult for higher education institutions. Earlier this month, Delaware Technical Community College (Delaware’s only community college) requested nearly $1M from the state legislature to provide instructor salary increases.
DelTech, like many community colleges, is struggling to retain instructors. A survey of school districts throughout the state showed that DelTech was 15th of 19 districts statewide in terms of instructor pay. Currently, the average salary for a full-time instructor at DelTech is $50,000 – $60,000. That’s after two consecutive years of significant salary increases in an attempt to raise instructor pay. DelTech instructors are currently not unionized.

Retaining full-time instructors – especially those who teach occupational programs – must be a priority for community colleges. I have no particular perspective on what goes on in contract negotiations for the WCCEA, but the current contract calls for a 2% salary increase in 2023 and again in 2024.

This contract was signed in August 2022; inflation was 8.3% that month. The contract included a 3% raise at the time of signing and an additional 1% raise in December 2022. Combined with the planned raises in 2023 and 2024, the contract will raise the faculty’s income by 8.2%. Over four years. At a time when inflation was rising by 8.3% in a month.

It’s important to point out that over the past three years, the Board of Trustees has raised the president’s compensation by 15.5% over three years. The full-time faculty drive program and course development. They do more to attract and retain students than a hundred executives would or could.

Instructor salary increases should track president’s compensation

If you think the college can’t afford to compensate instructors adequately, an 8.2% raise across the board would add $1.25M to the instructor salary expenditure that the College reported in 2021-2022. As a matter of policy, the WCC Administration has made a practice of skimming operating cash into the College’s “rainy day” fund. The College uses this reserve to fund capital improvements – the same improvements that it could seek taxpayer support for, but doesn’t.

Washtenaw County taxpayers provide adequate funding to compensate WCC instructors appropriately, but the Administration diverts operating funds well in excess of the recommended reserves to avoid asking taxpayers for additional tax support.

This strategy has already decreased student enrollment and the size of the full-time faculty by 25% in the last decade. If WCC expects to retain its faculty – especially its occupational faculty – this has to change. The Board of Trustees needs to insist that operating funds be used for operations; that the College reserves grow no larger than the recommended amount; and that no capital expenses or associated capital debts should be paid for or guaranteed by the General Fund.

The WCCEA needs to treat the president’s compensation increases as the pattern for contractual increases. Do not settle for less. Your money is sitting in the capital reserves – waiting to fund the construction of a non-instructional building the campus and the community do not need.

Photo Credit: Images Money, via Flickr