WINSTON-SALEM (March 16, 2023) – Forsyth Technical Community College President Janet Spriggs has 36 vacancies among her faculty to fill – far more than usual this time of year. And six of those positions have been vacant more than a year.
Forsyth Tech has lost 58 of its 320 full-time faculty members to industry and other education entities since July 2021 – some of whom took jobs that pay two to three times what the community college can pay, Spriggs said.
“They chose these other jobs because of salaries,” she said departing instructors told college officials in their exit interviews.
“That’s what we’re facing,” Spriggs said, adding that state benefits don’t seem to compensate for low state salaries the way they once did. “It’s really at a crisis level, I think.”
Where college faculty traditionally wait until the end of a semester to leave, she said, some – including trades instructors and college-transfer faculty – can’t wait to take a lucrative offer. So they left their students in mid-semester.
THE NC COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM has asked state legislators for a 7% raise over the next two years for community-college employees.
While North Carolina’s community colleges rank 41st in the nation in faculty salaries, she said, the System based its requests on projected average salaries in our four surrounding states: Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina.
“Right now we just have to be able to compete with the states in our region,” Spriggs said.
At a recent breakfast with legislators from Forsyth County, Spriggs thanked legislators for the raises they approved for state workers last year.
But she also said last year’s raises weren’t enough, and that the state’s 58 community colleges will ask legislators for $232.7 million more for 2023-25.
“I do think we have to realize that we are an asset, that there is an ROI,” Spriggs told Higher Ed Works.
Community colleges are critical to a prepared workforce and economic prosperity in North Carolina, she said.
After a successful 2022 and a ranking as the best business climate in the nation, though, North Carolina needs to continue to invest in community colleges if it wants to stay No. 1 and compete for the next big jobs project.
“They’re going to go where the talent is,” she said.