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With federal grant money, CFCC plans to give a $1,500 December bonus to full-time employees

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Bethanie Simms
/
WHQR
Board of Trustee members watching presenters during their Wednesday, November 18th meeting.

Cape Fear Community College President Jim Morton announced on Wednesday that all full-time faculty and staff would receive a one-time $1,500 bonus in December. The money will come from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

Morton also outlined in his president’s report, if the state budget passes, there will be a 2.5% salary increase for faculty and staff each year for the next two years. The state will also provide a $1,500 bonus for faculty and staff making less than $75,000 a year and a $1,000 bonus for those making more than $75,000.

But the meeting started with items not listed on the agenda. First, Board of Trustee members heard a presentation from Jerry Coleman, the director of the Small Business Center (SBC), on how the center provides free services to those who are seeking advice on how to run a small business.

Coleman, along with Morton, touted SBC receiving close to $272,000 from Covid-19 relief funds to help support local businesses through pandemic challenges. Following Coleman was a presentation by Donna Warren, who leads the CFCC North Carolina Military Business Center.

[Editor's note: WHQR requested copies of these presentations, but the college hasn't yet provided them.]

Also in his report to the board, Morton briefly addressed a future staff climate survey:

“So we’re working on putting that together and we made sure we got a couple of samples, if you make it too long people won’t participate, and if we do this, we need to do it right so we get good participation up there so it’s a good reflection,” said Morton.

But in the two months since the last meeting, Morton did not show the samples nor give a timeline for the deployment of the survey and the board asked no questions.

After the meeting, WHQR asked Sonya Johnson, the vice president of marketing and community relations, about the specifics of the survey samples but no concrete answers were provided.

Morton said he is continuing his employee “Chats with the President”. He said that they “have been tremendous, love it. Getting the feedback from employees about suggestions, about things they’ve been concerned with in the past that have never made it up [to me]. They have great ideas or some things we can’t do -- and we explain it, walk through understanding why we can or cannot do it.”

The president also reported that the CFCC’s Pathway Home Grant has hired a project grant director and that LINC has also hired a manager for the grant. The program provides access to CFCC coursework and job training for close to 400 current and former inmates. Morton said the application will open on January 1st, 2022, and will close on March 31st, 2022.

After Morton finished his report, Trustee Zander Guy praised Morton’s recent work, saying that UNCW Trustee Dr. Jimmy Tate shared his positive opinion. Alluding in part to recent criticism in the media, Guy said:

“But you deserve a public comment like that with all the shit you’ve had to put up with,” said Zander.

Changes to faculty handbook

Without discussion, the board also approved a handbook policy change to the ‘course overload/reductions’ for faculty — meaning they cannot teach more than two courses per semester unless they receive an exemption.

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CFCC agenda
This is the updated 'Course Overload/Reductions for Faculty' Policy.
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CFCC agenda
8.5 refers to staff with other roles, not full-time faculty

But with the president being one of the representatives who have the final say and no criteria mentioned for how a faculty member would apply, some faculty said they are uncertain as to who is eligible or how to qualify.

While the college said that the purpose of this policy is to "ensure that course quality and integrity remain high" and that administrators have "an interest in ensuring an instructor does not take on an excessive amount of work," critics have argued this policy amounts to a pay cut for faculty who have proven they can effectively teach extra courses.

Other committee reports

From the Administration and Personnel Committee, Board of Trustee Member Robby Collins said, “The [handbook] revisions were discussed with Human Resources, the Faculty Association President, and the VP of Academic Affairs. They are all in agreement with the changes in this policy.”

Prior to this process, CFCC’s College Council would typically vote on whether to adopt such a policy. Instead, the Council was informed that the head of Human Resources Anne Smith, the Vice President of Academic Affairs Jason Chaffin, and Faculty Association President Eric Brandon met in a closed session to discuss the policy.

During Eric Brandon’s Faculty Association report, he said attendance at faculty meetings had increased this fall — about thirty or more members attending compared to “several years ago when it was in the single digits.” According to Brandon’s report, “a variety of topics” were discussed but no specifics were listed.