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Study says HCC should pay faculty more money

March 23, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN

Chris Lewis, an associate math professor at Hagerstown Community College, knows he could make more money working elsewhere.

"I took a pay cut to come out here," Lewis said. "I used to work at Salisbury (University), but I moved out here to be closer to family."

Teachers and staff members at Hagerstown Community College are paid less than their colleagues at local businesses and comparable community colleges in the state, according to a report school officials will present to faculty and staff today.

In order to remain competitive locally and nationally, HCC needs to pay more, said Karen F. Lehr, president of the Virginia consulting firm HCC hired to conduct a study.

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"We're suggesting an increase in staff and faculty salaries by 4 percent," said Lehr, who presented the findings Tuesday to the college's Board of Trustees.

The study compares staff and teacher salaries with those offered at six Maryland community colleges similar to HCC's size and demographics.

It also compares HCC salaries to local businesses, the Washington County Public Schools system and the national higher education market.

According to the study, HCC staff salaries were slightly below what's offered in the local job market and at other community colleges. But faculty salaries were much lower, Lehr said.

On average, the median salary for HCC professors is $66,251, about 2 percent less than what is offered at other community colleges in Maryland, the study found.

Associate professors make about $52,163, or 8 percent less than their counterparts at other schools, and assistant professors, who make about $44,733, are paid 10 percent less.

Human Resources Director Michael Seger said the comparatively low salaries have not kept the school from attracting faculty native to the area. HCC hired a record 15 faculty members at the start of the school year, the most in the school's 50 years, officials said.

Lewis said he was happy to receive the 4 percent raise, but also said that he thought it was "modest."

"I wouldn't say it should be anything less than that," he said.

Terri Bidle, a biology professor, said she travels from her Frederick County home to work at HCC.

"I love the college and love the students," said Bidle, who's been teaching at HCC for more than 20 years.

She said she knew instructors with the same job title probably made more money at other schools, but she said there were drawbacks for experienced professors who leave the institution.

"Once you've been on faculty for so long, you'd never go in as a full professor," Bidle said. "You'd have to take a drop in pay."

Bernard Murphy, an assistant professor in biology and chemistry, said he was aware that he was making less than his colleagues at other schools.

"There is more to a job than just pay," Murphy said. "I am pleased with the salary, but I know I could make more working somewhere else."

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