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How does faculty pay in NC stack up?

Welcome to Awake58. Thank you for reading. If you missed last week’s newsletter, which focused on lessons of leadership during COVID-19, click here. If you were forwarded this email from a friend, please click here to subscribe.

We are exploring faculty pay all week long, so stay tuned to… We examine the statewide conversation around connectivity and broadband… Tips from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College for shifting learning online featured below…

Over the last 18-plus months of sending Awake58, few topics generate more email replies hitting my inbox than any mention of faculty pay. This week, we are diving deep on the subject on with multiple pieces exploring where our state stands salary-wise compared to other states, the history of how we arrived at this funding system, and more.

New interest in an old problem: Faculty pay at North Carolina’s community colleges” is the first piece in the series. John Quinterno lays out the facts plainly: “In 2017-18, the average full-time community college instructor in North Carolina earned $49,549, which was less than the corresponding salaries paid in all but seven states.”

Quinterno illustrates the faculty pay situation by zeroing in on a job listing for an adjunct instructor in advanced manufacturing at Piedmont Community College. He goes on to pose an important question:

“The mechatronics position for which PCC advertised was a part-time one, ideally for someone with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, paying between $18 and $24 per hour. Yet in North Carolina, such an experienced engineer earns, on average, $50 per hour. What might motivate someone, then, apart from a love of the subject, to pursue a contingent job that pays modestly, offers no benefits, and may require a lengthy commute and the associated out-of-pocket costs.”

For the whole piece, click below.

I had a chance to catch up with Catawba Valley Community College president Garrett Hinshaw last week about the series. Hinshaw told me, “We have continued to lose our best teachers in our technical and healthcare programs to the private sector and now we are losing our general education teachers to the K-12 market due to our inability to be competitive in salaries.”

Hinshaw went on to say, “Our funding model must be reviewed if we are depended on to provide tomorrow’s pipeline of talent for the state’s workforce. For the past 60 years, North Carolina’s community colleges have consistently received $.08-$.09 of every dollar that the state invests in education. This must change if our state expects us to attract and retain faculty that will determine the quality of our future workforce. The over 700,000 North Carolinians that turn to us annually for their future deserve the best instruction that we can provide, and it’s getting more difficult for us to assure that quality when we struggle to compensate our faculty in a highly competitive market.”

Check back in with all week long for the series. And, as always, I would love to hear your stories, thoughts, and feedback. Just reply directly to this email.



Director of Growth,

Who teaches in North Carolina’s community colleges?

The second piece in our faculty pay series explores who makes up our faculty across all 58 community colleges. Some numbers worth noting:

→ 20,744 faculty members (in 2017-2018 according to SREB)

→ 6,460 full-time instructors and 14,284 part-time instructors (in 2017-2018 according to SREB)

→ 58 of every 100 full-time instructors in the state are women according to SREB estimates

→ 45% increase in amount of instructors from 1990-91 to 2017-18

→ $49,549 average pay for full-time instructors in NC in 2017-18 — which was well below the national average of $64,200 and the SREB average of $54,681

For the full piece, click here.

The “who” includes many of you who are reading this newsletter, so please reply directly to this email to share your story.

We want to hear your story

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned lives upside down for all of you in North Carolina’s 58 community colleges. You’re dealing with new challenges every minute whether they involve remote learning, stay-at-home orders, financial stress, child care, social isolation, anxiety about the future, or other concerns.

We would like to share your COVID-19 story in the weeks ahead. We believe it is important to document our experiences throughout this moment in time so we can all learn more about our successes, challenges, and future opportunities.

Tips for students transitioning to online studies from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College president Carol Spalding wrote a piece with tips for students who are now transitioning to online learning. Prior to COVID-19, Spalding noted over a third of students were online.

Her tips include:

→ Do not be afraid to ask for help! Reach out to your instructor via email, and if email is not a good way to address the questions you have, then ask for a phone call, screen sharing or a virtual meeting (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.). Connect with classmates via text, email, or online study groups.

→ Check your college email and other internal platforms such as Blackboard daily, and make sure to read through each item or message fully. Configuring your email on your phone can help make sure you don’t miss communications.

→ Set up a routine, manage your time wisely, and work in a space free of distractions and interference.

For the rest of Spalding’s tips, check out the piece by clicking here. If you share it with your students, or have other tips, please let us know!

Supporting students during COVID-19: We’re still in the business of improving lives through learning

Emily Thomas serves as an adjunct faculty member of Isothermal Community College and has been in the higher ed space for more than 10 years in a variety of roles. She offers up her lessons on supporting students during this online transition in this piece, while also documenting the overall work of Isothermal Community College transitioning online.

Emily quotes Isothermal’s college liaison for high school programs, Andrew Bradshaw, who is concerned “that the lack of face-to-face support for college courses that students typically receive at the county public high schools from distance learning advisors will have a negative impact on course completion.”

She also points out some great cross-faculty collaboration, including one instructor who built out an online course for another instructor who had never taught online.

Emily goes on to explore Isothermal’s Moodle strategies, her own work to find online textbook options, and the reality of supporting her students through the process. I’d encourage you to spend time with the piece by clicking here!

Our education system was ‘built around students already engaged.’ A statewide connectivity initiative could change that.

A big topic that many are discussing right now:

“Can we use this crisis to think futuristically about how we can meet the needs of all learners?”

My colleague Mebane Rash listened to a cross-sector conversation hosted by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation regarding the broadband and equity question. Jean Davis of MCNC, which delivers internet via 4,000 miles of fiber across the state, posed a big question during the conversation: “Why not have a statewide connectivity initiative that had to do with students’ homes?” 

For the full conversation, check out Mebane’s piece. And ICYMI, we encourage you to check out the NC IMPACT episode on rural broadband access.

Across NC

The State Board of Community Colleges meets this week, so stay tuned for our coverage. We expect a slim agenda, but look for the new president of Martin Community College to be approved.

I love this piece from my colleague Alli Lindenberg on one high school teacher using Snapchat to get her class ready for remote learning. Check it out by clicking here!

This piece from Caroline Parker on improving the quality of life in Clay County with the help of the “Woodchuckers” was an uplifting one to read over Easter weekend. Spend a few minutes with it if you have time.

As a reminder, the Belk Center has resources for faculty grappling with the transition to online learning during COVID-19, and they have a form for those who need assistance during the online transition. 

Inside Higher Ed has a good piece out now featuring faculty members reflecting on their transition to online learning.

Higher Ed Works has a piece looking at a variety of ways community colleges have responded to COVID-19 entitled, “Community colleges live up to their name.” Check it out.

In the news… “The Golden LEAF Board of Directors has announced $12.2 million in funding to support projects through the foundation’s Community-Based Grant Initiative in the Sandhills Prosperity Zone, its Open Grants Program, its Community College Scholarship Program, and its Disaster Recovery Grant Program.” For more, click here. 

The Carteret Community College Board of Trustees held their first conversation around their presidential search process. For more details, check out the piece.

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.