From President Tracy D. Hall
We have had an outstanding year. More Southwest Tennessee Community College students earned associate degrees this year than last year and more and more are transferring to universities to continue their studies. And still, many other students are moving directly into the workforce, qualified to compete for the jobs they desire.
These successes could not be possible without your hard work and dedication. In turn, Southwest is committed to investing in employee development, compensation and success. Therefore, thanks to recent Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) approval, I am privileged to share wonderful news on the compensation front that will be effective July 1, 2019, unless otherwise stated.
TBR approves salary increases and College plans in FY19/20 budget
TBR earlier this month approved a two percent across-the-board cost of living adjustment (COLA) salary increase for unrestricted, full-time, benefits-eligible employees hired no later than June 30, 2019. The board also approved an increase in adjunct faculty pay from $600 to $640 per credit hour. Notably, the adjunct pay raise was driven by TBR for all colleges across the state and funded by a special allocation tuition increase.
In addition, Southwest will provide the following salary benefits over and above TBR’s COLA for full-time, benefits-eligible employees hired no later than June 30, 2019:
- The living wage for hourly employees will increase from $11.10 per hour to $12 per hour. This 9 percent increase is the second pay raise since the College embarked on its mission to increase the living wage in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017/2018. Managers and supervisors will notify eligible employees.
- All Southwest full-time, benefits eligible employees will receive a $1,000 bonus later this fall, the second bonus in as many years.
The College will seek permission from grant-funding agencies to also allow the COLA to apply to those employees whose positions are funded by grants. Grant employees will be notified by their immediate supervisor regarding approved salary increases.
TBR also approved Southwest’s Education & General (E&G) budget for FY19/20 that includes funding for the faculty compensation plan that was recently reviewed in partnership with the Southwest faculty senate. The goal of the plan is to ensure all full-time faculty members continue to move towards compensation at the mid-point of the salary range and beyond. This approval is a major achievement in our goal to recruit and retain top educators to teach Southwest students. With this stamp of approval, the College will move forward in FY19/20 to increase full-time faculty pay. Department deans and chairs will share the details with eligible faculty.
Just as the College made improvements in full-time faculty compensation, ongoing efforts to address staff compensation above and beyond the COLA and bonus are in the approved FY19/20 budget. In addition, professional development funds are included in the budget for the fourth consecutive year. Budgets reflect the values of an organization. We value Southwest employees as the College’s greatest asset and the Southwest FY19/20 budget reflects this philosophy.
TBR raises tuition and maintenance fees
Growth and transformation are necessary if we are to provide the best student experience possible. As you may know, costs increase over time due to inflation. Therefore, TBR also announced a total increase in tuition and fees of 2.44 percent, which includes the technology access fee or TAF. This marks the lowest percentage increase at TBR community colleges since 1991. The TAF increase translates to $3.50 per semester per student or about $7 a year. The modest uptick is necessary due to rising business costs associated with the increased use of technology in classrooms and labs and the significant financial investments in cybersecurity required to protect the College’s data and networks.
A portion of the additional revenue that will be generated by the tuition and fee increase has been allocated to fund the 2 percent COLA and the increase in adjunct faculty pay.
Facilities are another critical element to teaching and learning and we are prepared to make major investments in facilities upgrades. The $5.6 million renovation of the Fulton Building (Macon Cove campus) began this summer and the $750,000 project to construct Funeral Service Education classrooms and labs and procure state-of-the-art equipment is underway at the Whitehaven Center and should wrap up in the fall. The College will continue to invest in technology infrastructure upgrades that will not only improve the teaching and learning experience, but also elevate our ability to serve students through our business operations.
There are those employees who serve our institution diligently each day, helping students navigate the College, assisting departments with many administrative tasks, and working with the leadership to ensure our deans, directors, and department heads are meeting the demands of their units. They are the secretaries and administrative secretaries of our organization. Human Resources has been working to update the job titles of these individuals to better describe their role and to help students and employees better navigate the College and conduct business more efficiently. Effective July 1, 2019, secretaries will be referred to as Administrative Assistant I, II or III or as Senior Administrative Assistant. Human Resources will reach out to these employees and their supervisors in the coming weeks to update them on their job title change.
These compensation and human resources policy enhancements demonstrate our appreciation for your hard work and dedication to helping our students achieve their dreams.
Again, thank you for your outstanding performance this past year. Our students are benefitting from your stellar efforts each day and so is the College, the community and the state of Tennessee.
Thank you for all you do. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday and enjoy the summer.