After several months without a firm answer on raises, East Central College faculty received good news Monday night at the board of trustees monthly meeting.
The board voted in favor of an across the board raise of $1,500 a year for all full-time faculty and prorated increases to permanent part-time staff at the equivalent hourly rate of approximately 72 cents/hour.
The raise will be distributed to faculty before the end of the college’s 2018 fiscal year, which ends July 1.
ECC President Dr. Jon Bauer recommended in mid-July to defer a decision on raises, evaluate the budget after the first quarter of the fiscal year and make a decision regarding salary increases by Monday’s board meeting.
That decision came after months spent fighting budget cuts and making financial adjustments brought on by cuts to state aid.
Bauer said awarding faculty this raise is the college following through on its promise to faculty.
“We can afford to do this and I think it’s important to do this for our employees,” he said “We felt if we waited till this time of the year we’d be in a better position to make a decision on raises (and we are).”
The recommendation equates to an average increase of approximately 3.4 percent for full-time employees. The total cost of the increase is estimated at $375,540, including retirement. Those funds will come from the college’s contingency budget.
The college provided raises of 2.75 percent in 2016 and a $1,000 and 1 percent of salary raise in 2017.
Bauer assured the board that the administration felt awarding raises is fiscally safe. He said there is enough money in the budget to award the raises to faculty and it’s important to continue to improve the salaries of faculty.
According to some members of faculty leadership, salaries at East Central are not as competitive as other colleges like St. Louis Community College (STLCC) and St. Charles Community College.
Bauer said a request for proposals is currently being drafted to seek out a firm that could study how the college’s compensation measures up to neighboring community colleges.
ECC National Education Association President and English teacher Sue Henderson said the raises are a start for the faculty, but more needs to be done. She said it’s encouraging to hear Bauer mention a possible study on compensation at the college.
Faculty Association President and EMS Coordinator Tom Fitts agreed with Henderson. He said, however, that he believed both sides understand raises cannot be handed out without careful consideration.
Henderson said the need for salary improvements is not just an issue of money, but also of how well ECC can draw in and retain talent at the college.
In July, Henderson noted that a STLCC job posting offered roughly $18,000 more in salary than the same job offered at ECC.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s annual salary report, on average, STLCC instructors are paid roughly $6,000 more than ECC’s instructors. Assistant professors are paid roughly $7,800 more on average.
However, in higher ranking faculty positions, ECC’s average pay surpasses STLCC’s. ECC professors are paid, on average, $2,200 more than STLCC professors, and associate professors are paid roughly $3,000 more.
Bauer said a study on salaries would be a step forward in keeping the college competitive and that improving salaries will be ongoing work.
“We need to continue to look at salaries,” Bauer said. “That was one of the goals set out at the beginning of the year and that work will continue.”