RALEIGH (March 30, 2022) – It’s shameful.
North Carolina’s community colleges are a linchpin of economic development and social mobility in our state. Yet what we pay instructors at those colleges is shameful. From a national perspective, North Carolina’s community college instructors rank even lower than our K-12 public school teachers.
“The North Carolina Community College System is the third largest system in the country – yet we rank 41st in faculty salaries,” Thomas Stith, President of the NC Community College System, says in the accompanying video.
“We have to invest in our faculty and our staff on our community college campuses to ensure that we have high-quality instructors in front of our students and the support staff to provide an excellent experience for student success.”
Like other state employees, community-college faculty and staff received 5% raises in the budget that state legislators and Gov. Roy Cooper adopted in November – 2.5% raises this year and next.1
But they still have a long way to go.
In January, the State Board of Community Colleges endorsed a proposal to raise employee pay by 8% over the next three years so that average faculty salaries increase to $56,693 – the projected average for community college instructors in our neighboring states of Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.
Similarly, the State Board wants legislators to increase funds for instruction and student support to the projected average at community colleges in our four surrounding states – or 66% of the funding level for freshman and sophomore students in the UNC System.2
The State Board recently honored leaders across the 58-college system. These educators do heavy lifting in our higher-education system. And they deserve a lift themselves:
- Dr. Laura Leatherwood at Blue Ridge Community College, President of the Year. Leatherwood has helped recruit seven companies to Henderson County and added new technology across departments. The college also partnered with the John M. Belk Endowment to launch a new initiative for adult learners, contributing to a significant increase in enrollment.
- Melissa Smith, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Coordinator at Forsyth Technical Community College, Excellence in Teaching Award.3 Smith worked to purchase and install a one-of-a-kind MRI simulator at Forsyth Tech. She uses games and other creative assignments to keep students engaged. The program had a 100% pass rate for the MRI national registry three times in the last nine years. “The teacher I had in the radiography program saw me as a person,” Smith said. “I wasn’t one of 200 students.”4 Now she’s paying it forward.
- Greg Singleton, Director of Workforce Readiness, Craven Community College, Staff of the Year. Singleton launched a Job Readiness Boot Camp in 2017 and has expanded it to rural parts of Craven County. The boot camp supports the unemployed, underemployed and formerly incarcerated with soft skills such as resume writing, interviewing and communication help. Singleton managed to place the Craven-Pamlico Re-Entry Council under the auspices of Craven Community College and serves as as guest speaker at several state prisons.
- Catawba Valley Community College and Catawba Valley Furniture Academy, Distinguished Partners in Excellence. The academy is an industry-driven training program that serves as a pipeline of furniture workers. The CVFA partners with 35 furniture manufacturers in the region, and to date, 100% of students trained in the program have been hired by local furniture makers.5