UNC, Community Colleges Want Better Salaries

UNC, Community Colleges Want Better Salaries

UNC wants $28.5 million and the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) $61.5 million in order to make faculty salaries competitive with peer institutions, representative of both systems told legislators on Tuesday.

UNC leaders realize the legislators face a tight budget year, said Gretchen Bataille, UNC Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs. But improving and maintaining the state’s economic engine and infrastructure requires raising salaries, she said. The state should also amend its Optional Retirement Plan (ORP), said Bataille, increasing the state’s contribution to individual plans and allowing employees more flexibility in how they invest funds. The average employer contribution rate to Optional Retirement Plans at UNC is 6.84 percent. The rate for all of UNC’s peer institutions combined is 7.96 percent. UNC also recommended raising the annual percentage increase of faculty pay from 4.2 to 6 percent. The increase would cost $64.6 million.

The figures for Community Colleges, meanwhile, come in response to legislators’ request for more long-term planning on raising the competitiveness of faculty salaries. Last month, community college representatives told legislators that it would need $47.4 million to raise faculty salaries to the national average during the next biennium. The new figures represent the cost of raising faculty salaries to the national average over the next five years. They account for faculty and enrollment growth projections, “a moving target” (the average composite salary grows by a rate of $4.5 per year), and the additional cost of phasing in the increases over five years.

But members of the Education Oversight Committee have made clear that both systems are unlikely to get all of the requested increases. “Are we just going to simply spend money…or take the attitude that we do with public schools that you are going to have to be accountable,” said Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Howard Lee, D-Orange. Lee said that both systems should increase revenue generators and exercise more accountability and oversight in how universities spend state dollars.

“We don’t want to destroy the flexibility of community colleges [in how they spend funds],” said Committee Co-Chairman Rep. Eugene Rogers, D-Martin. But community college salaries are very low and legislators want to ensure that state dollars for salary increases are properly spent.

Hispanic Graduation Rate Lags

While 41 percent of non-Hispanic whites attend college in the United States, only 22 percent of Hispanic youths go, according to “Education=Success,” a report co-sponsored by the Texas-based Hispanic Association of College and Universities (HACU) and the Education Testing Service (ETS). The report estimates that closing the education gap would raise the income levels of Hispanic families and that the resulting salaries would add $130 billion to the U.S. Economy annually and $46 billion to annual tax revenues.

The reasons for the education gap, according to the report, include poverty, language barriers, low literacy rates among parents, and young people leaving school to get jobs to help support their families. These are the same reasons for the information gap, says HACU Director of Program Collaboratives Rene Gonzalez.

“I think it simply isn’t getting down there. [I]t’s a matter of culture, it’s a matter of resources, it’s a matter of the experience of parents and of the community as well,” she told USA Today.