State Fair Community College

4C2 Key institutional and geographic factors

What key institutional and geographic factors determine how you address your work environment and job classification? In what ways do you use part-time employees?
In 2004, the Human Resources and Payroll Services Office (HR) contracted with Public Sector Consultants to determine whether or not salaries and job descriptions were appropriate and accurate. Additionally, staff reviewed categories of employees and set competitive salary ranges for classified and professional staff based on a comparative analysis of salaries in the community, at other colleges and in similar organizations.
 
At the same time, a Faculty Salary Committee was formed and tasked with creating a new model for faculty compensation and placement to include well-defined criteria required for advancement. The committee completed its work in spring 2007 and produced a model developed by consensus that did not require any salary adjustments. The new model represents a significant commitment to student goal attainment (Goal 1). The model requires increased levels of student centeredness and an in-depth understanding that everyone is responsible for removing barriers to student success. It requires commitment beyond classroom responsibilities and sets expectations for faculty involvement in shared governance, in AQIP and data-influenced decision making. Increased levels of institutional and community commitment and activity are required in order to advance from one level of compensation and faculty status to the next. Although the model narrowly failed passage in fall 2008, the faculty and administration will continue to discuss components of the model that are especially significant to the college’s focus on continuous quality improvement.
 
Finally, a cross-representational employee committee has been formed to create a performance management evaluation system. The committee is tasked to create a system that is, in part, based on participation in professional development opportunities related to continuous quality improvement. These opportunities are designed to increase employee commitment to student centeredness and are often related to ongoing improvement projects.
 
As stated in the overview, SFCC serves 14 counties in rural mid-Missouri. The main campus is in Sedalia with two regional sites and six satellite sites. The service area is sparsely populated and includes two of Missouri’s largest recreational lakes. With major metropolitan areas within one to two hours from most of the college’s sites, the HR Office is sometimes challenged to attract qualified pools of applicants in a number of different disciplines, including math, science and nursing.
 
Due to the fact that higher education funding in Missouri remains at the 2001 level, it is difficult to keep salaries and benefits competitive. Although the board of trustees has set that as a priority, the college is seldom able to cover increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in addition to increases in medical coverage and employer participation in the state’s retirement program. Often the case is that any pay increase that is given is negated by mandatory increases in the state’s retirement plan and/or family insurance premiums that must be paid by the employee. It should be noted that SFCC employees are not represented by a labor organization and do not have tenure.
 
Of special note is the fact that the SFCC Board of Trustees and administration work relentlessly to provide a positive work environment for all employees (e.g., standard 35-hour work week and 55 days of paid holiday, vacation and sick time). Buildings and office spaces provide employees with state-of-the-art technology resources; maintenance crews keep the facilities and grounds clean and safe; and the administration is committed to providing professional development and advancement opportunities that reward employees and support their career goals and professional success.
 
As noted earlier, the state’s support of higher education has not increased since 2001. Similarly, local support has remained the same since 1985; however, the property tax rate of .0421 is the highest in Missouri. Tuition increases are limited by the institution’s philosophy to remain accessible and affordable. Consequently, SFCC relies heavily on adjunct faculty, contract employees, and part-time staffing. Rather than automatically replacing employees who leave or retire, the administration seeks to realign positions and implement cost-saving measures when possible.
 
Part-time employees are hired for grant-funded projects and as short-term, labor intensive administrative initiatives and interim-type positions are needed.
 
Currently, adjunct faculty teach more than 40 percent of the credit hours taught each semester. This percentage is likely to increase as the college moves to online degree offerings. However, the college has maintained a higher full-time to adjunct ratio than other community colleges. Due to the college’s rural location, it is often difficult to hire qualified adjunct faculty members.
 

Retirees and volunteers are asked to assist during high enrollments periods, orientations and other special services that support first-generation college students. SFCC has found tremendous benefit in utilizing their service, especially for first-time freshmen and students who are underserved and underprepared for college-level work. The continuing support of retirees is witness to the college’s founding principle of providing students with the “personal touch.” SFCC employees (past and present) understand that it is often the “personal touch” that is the difference between retaining or losing a student. The personal touch is imperative during the first week of classes when student attrition can be high; thus, the college covers this critical time by recruiting volunteers and retirees who spend extended personal time with new students.

Figure 4C2.1 Summary of personnel statistics

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