Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

What will it take to boost faculty pay?

Welcome to Awake58. Thank you for reading. If you missed last week’s newsletter, click here. If you were forwarded this email from a friend, please click here to subscribe.

New presidents have been named at Carteret and Martin community colleges … the CARES Act will provide roughly $120 million across the 58 community colleges, and we update you on what we know about the process … We are kicking off a series of faculty profiles this week …

We rolled out a five-part look at faculty pay last week. I highly encourage you to dig in on the data, the history, and the challenges that the series lifted up.

Rachel Desmarais, president of Vance Granville Community College, put the issue in context for her institution when she told us, “Our faculty choose to be in community college rather than in a K-12 or university setting. They know their work is critically important, and for many, it is a heart mission. I wish we could value them financially as we do educators in other settings. Community college is not ‘less than,’ but I feel like we send that message implicitly when our faculty aren’t paid equitably in comparison.” 

For the whole series, click below.

We expect faculty pay to remain a top priority during the upcoming legislative session — even with the uncertainty flowing from COVID-19. 

We caught up with Peter Hans, president of the NC Community College System, regarding faculty pay last week. Hans told us, “Increasing faculty and staff compensation is a top priority for the community college system. It affects recruitment, retention, and morale. Good people working hard for our 700,000 students should be well compensated for their time and talent.”

“Much of the state’s attention in recent years has been on boosting public school teacher pay, and I’m glad they’ve made strides (now 29th in the country) there. But community colleges shouldn’t be overlooked, because we will drive the state’s recovery through workforce development. The economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus will negatively affect the state’s revenue, but I’ll keep fighting for our people. They deserve it.” 

We will be tracking this story throughout the legislative session. For our daily and weekly legislative updates, please consider subscribing to our other newsletters.

Have a great week,


Director of Growth,

State Board update: Educator prep coming to community colleges

The State Board of Community Colleges voted Friday to approve new programs in educator preparation offered at community colleges throughout the state.

My colleague Alex Granados has the details in his latest story: “Students in the Career and College Promise program will be able to seek the general associate in arts or science and then transfer to a four-year institution to earn a teaching degree. The Career and College Promise Program allows high school students to take community college classes and work towards their associate degree.”

The board approved Wesley Beddard as the new president at Martin Community College. Beddard has been serving as the associate vice president of programs at the North Carolina Community College System. The board also approved Tracy Mancini as the next president of Carteret Community College. She is the vice president of instruction and student support at the college. More information on Beddard and Mancini is featured in the Around NC section lower in this newsletter.

For the full story from the State Board, check out Alex’s article.

What we know and don’t know about CARES Act funding for community colleges

Readers have asked EdNC about the letter Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sent to community college presidents recently and about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. Mebane explores the answers in our latest Ask & Answer.

The 58 community colleges across North Carolina will receive $120,073,308 in total, of which $60,036,669 is available now for student relief. The letter says, “We are prioritizing this funding stream in order to get money in the hands of students in need as quickly as possible.”

For more details, including the actual allocation per college, check out Mebane’s piece.

Spotlight: Faculty pay at North Carolina’s community colleges

Our research showed that 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. John Quinterno weaved all of the research together in a five-part report. Below you will find a direct link to each part of the series and a highlighted excerpt from each piece. Please dig deep on this report and let us know what you think.

Part One: New interest in an old problem: Faculty pay at North Carolina’s community colleges

“In February 2020, the State Board of Community Colleges identified as its highest budget priority a salary increase of 5% for all faculty and staff employees — a proposal with an estimated annual cost of $62 million. While there is no guarantee the request will survive the budget process, the issue likely will attract attention in the upcoming legislative session.”

Part Two: Who teaches in North Carolina’s community colleges?

“A total of 20,744 faculty members worked in North Carolina’s 58 community colleges in 2017-18, according to the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a regional interstate compact organization focused on education policy.  Some 6,460 of these individuals, or 31%, worked on a full-time basis, the remaining 14,284, or 69%, on a part-time basis.” 

Part Three: How are community college instructors paid in North Carolina?

“Past research from EdNC found that, in recent years, the NCCCS has received roughly $9 of every $100 appropriated for education, the UNC System $22 of every $100, and the public schools $69 of every $100. On a relative basis, the NCCCS receives the least amount of support, the University of North Carolina System, the most.”

Part Four: How has faculty pay at North Carolina’s community colleges changed over time?

“The Commission called for the State Board to ‘set a goal to raise salaries for faculty to the median level in the Southeast by 1992 and the top quartile of the Southeast by 1995’ … The gap between the state’s average full-time community college faculty salary and that paid in the SREB region narrowed by 30% between 1990-91 to 2017-18 … All of that improvement, however, occurred from 1990-91 to 2006-07, which is when average annual full-time faculty pay in North Carolina first equaled 91% of the regional figure.

“In contrast, North Carolina has not proven as successful at narrowing its salary gap relative to the nation. The typical community college instructor in North Carolina went from earning $0.67 for every $1 paid to the typical instructor in the United States in 1990-91 to earning $0.77 for every $1 paid to the typical instructor. Despite some minor fluctuations, the state-national pay gap basically has not narrowed since 2006-07.”

Part Five: What are the consequences of low faculty pay, and what changes are possible?

Quinterno’s research indicates several challenges for faculty pay, including:

→ Instructor shortages

→ Reliance on part-time instructors

→ Faculty management decisions of the individual colleges

He also highlights some possible changes, including:

→ A legislative request during the upcoming session: A 5% salary increase for 2020-21

→ Revising the funding formula for the system

→ Strengthening individual institutional capacity around what Quinterno dubs “strategic finance”

→ Building internal pathways for pay progression

→ Undertaking periodic pay equity studies

→ Exploring ways of “growing their own” faculty from individuals within their orbit

We welcome your feedback and thoughts on the entire series. We would also love for you to share your faculty pay story. Just reply directly to this email.

We will continue to explore the issue of faculty pay. Stay tuned to for more coverage in the months ahead.

Other EdNC reads:

 ‘I am also a community college graduate’ — Shelley White on her first months as Haywood Community College’s new president

My colleague Alli Lindenberg profiled Haywood Community College president Shelley White. White became president on January 1 — and I am sure she never could have imagined the turmoil her college and the entire system would be thrown into due to COVID-19. 

White spoke to the unique position she finds herself in: “As president you’re called on to make tough decisions, and to be in that role, and I think as a new president, that’s probably one of the most challenging things. While you’re getting to know your way around campus and getting to know your technology setup, things are happening and you’re needing to move forward and be prepared to hit the ground running. You’re dealing with issues like we are now with how the campus will respond to a statewide, national, worldwide emergency situation. So it’s a very unique position.”

Faculty profiles kick off | From early childhood to higher ed: One community college instructor’s journey

We will be publishing a series of faculty profiles this week. Liz Bell kicks it off by featuring Ginger Harris of Central Carolina Community College. Ginger graduated from high school without an idea of what she was going to do next, but she ultimately found her way to child care. She would go on to earn her associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees — but she told Liz she always hoped to return to Central Carolina for the next phase of her career.

In the piece, Harris reflected on some of the aspects that contributed to her experience: “I had advisors and faculty who were either really supportive and believed in me, or a couple that were adamant that I couldn’t do it … I like to think that my experiences are one of the things that helped me become a better advisor and faculty member.”

For the full profile, click here. 

Last week, Liz also wrote a perspective on her own journey navigating the role of being a journalist in the early childhood space. It is a wonderful piece, and I encourage you to read it!

Faculty profile | Welding with Michael Dixon: More than anvils and hammers — It’s a lot of heart

The second piece in our faculty profile series features a spotlight on Davidson County Community College welding instructor Michael Dixon. In 2018, Dixon was awarded the North Carolina Community College System’s “Excellence in Teaching” distinction. 

Dixon’s interest in welding began at a young age and stuck with him throughout his life. In 1993, he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident which required him to switch careers to sitting behind a desk, but his love for welding remained a constant. In 2006, he would receive his welding diploma from Surry Community College. He began teaching part-time before landing in a full-time role.

This quote from Dixon will stick with me, “You know, my life with being paralyzed now, I won’t call it a daily struggle, but it does present issues that I have to fight to overcome to get to work every day and be there for those students, and I think it makes them push a little harder. They see that, you know, I overcame what I had to deal with just to get there that day. And I’m there, and I’m there to help. And I think it gives them a little bit more of you know, ‘if he can do it, I can do it. And I want to do well for him.’”

For the full piece, click here.

Across NC

The NC Community College System Office announced the approval of two new presidents after the state board meeting. Our story is here.

Carteret Community College: Tracy Mancini, vice president of instruction and student support at Carteret Community College since 2016, was approved as the next president. Mancini also spent 17 years at Durham Technical Community College, where she was an English instructor, department chair, assistant dean, and dean. Mancini holds a doctorate in community college executive leadership from Wingate University, master’s degrees from Duke University and the University of North Florida, and a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary.

Martin Community College: Wesley Beddard, associate vice president of programs at the NC Community College System Office since 2013, was approved as the next president. Beddard has experience at a number of community colleges in North Carolina. He was a dean at Beaufort County Community College, Fayetteville Technical Community College, and Wilkes Community College. He began his community college career as an instructor at Craven Community College and previously was an instructor and administrator at Mount Olive College. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from Campbell University, a bachelor’s degree from Atlantic Christian College, and an associate degree from Mount Olive College.

Our CEO Mebane Rash published an article last week regarding and how we’re approaching our work during COVID-19. If you are curious about our approach, give it a read.

Beaufort County Community College will continue online instruction into the summer, WCTI NewsChannel 12 reports.

McDowell Technical Community College is partnering with Mars Hill University on a direct entry program, Mountain Xpress reports.

The Dogwood Trust is funding Wi-Fi hot spots for students learning from home, according to The McDowell News.

And CCC&TI is printing protective wear now, the Lenoir News-Topic reports.

Sign up for more from!

Sign up for all of our newsletters for all of the latest news and information.

A lot is happening in early childhood education! Sign-up for Early Bird to receive the latest news — including the latest information on early childhood educator prep.

Every single day, we cover the biggest stories affecting all of our students. Sign up for the Daily Digest to receive the news each morning!

For a weekly rundown on important stories from across North Carolina, subscribe to EdNC’s Weekly Wrapup.

Weigh in on weekly conversations about policy issues in North Carolina by joining Reach NC Voices.

Policy research, trends, and analysis from around the country have an impact on our state. Subscribe to Friday@5 to find out the latest each week!

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.