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For CFCC employees, spring meant 'eliminated positions' for some, significant raises for others

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Those who work or who have worked at the college call it ‘Bloody May.’ It’s the time of year when contracts aren’t renewed — and people fear losing their jobs because of a ‘restructuring.’ But for other staff, spring meant considerable, if not uniform, raises.

This past May, the administration did some more restructuring — and some higher-profile employees are out, while others saw pay bumps. The college declined to comment on these decisions.

Former CFCC employees Chardon Murray and Suzanne Baker attested to the fact that most faculty are re-evaluated each year because of the system’s reliance on annual contracts, which in turn can lead them to refrain from criticizing the administration’s decisions, as previously reported by WHQR in September 2021.

Some of that restructuring meant eliminating positions from the college's Full-Time Equivalent department, which essentially documents the enrollment levels that dictate funding the college gets from the state; FTE-based funding is one of the main sources of community college revenue across the state.

FTE department positions eliminated

Nina Taylor, the FTE compliance director, who started at the college in 2016, was informed in May 2022 that her contract was not being renewed and the position was eliminated.

That also went for Bonne McGlauflin, FTE compliance technician. But to complicate matters, McGauflin received close to a 12% raise in April, only for her position to be eliminated in May.

But the position held by Henry "Tucker" Lee, who also worked in the FTE compliance department, was not eliminated; in May he was promoted to the role of institutional researcher and accreditation assistant, and received a close to 12% raise. Working at the college since 2010, he now makes $65,004. Prior to this promotion, he served as a documentation technician — and an enrollment and documentation specialist. Tucker Lee is the son of Michelle Lee, executive director of President Jim Morton’s Office

Back in 2020, WECT reported that Michelle Lee received a considerable raise herself — and had allegations of creating a toxic work environment on the part of former employees Sharon Smith and Kumar Lakhavani.

Before their eliminations, McGlauflin, who has been working at the college since 2002, was making less than Tucker Lee with $55,416 and Taylor, who formerly directed the department, made more, at $76,896.

While the college said Taylor and McGlauflin’s positions were eliminated, near-identical job descriptions are showing up in the listing for ‘records specialist’ in a different department — meaning someone will still be doing the same work, just not Taylor and McGlauflin.

According to the college, the records specialist role will essentially support the submission of the Institutional Class Report, which records the number of FTE for the college. They also conduct compliance reviews with the number of FTE the college is counting in order to receive a considerable amount of state funds. It appears the job duties of people in the FTE department have been put into the college’s request for an additional records specialist position. The FTE compliance review that these employees used to conduct will now take place within student services and the registrar’s office, and the FTE department will no longer serve as a separate accountability division.

Other signs of 'restructuring'

Vice President of Academic Affairs Jason Chaffin resigned in May. He started working at the college in 2002 and his final salary was $138,636 ( Brandon Gutherie is serving as Interim Vice President of University Transfer, an area that Chaffin was once responsible for). Additionally, Enrollment and Documentation Director Tina Ward, who started with the college in 2010, had her position “eliminated.” Her final salary was $52,284.

The college did not respond to a request for comment as to why these decisions were made.

WHQR inquired about other employee positions on campus and their salaries; they are listed in the table below.

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WHQR requested salary information on the following employees. It still hasn't received information on Michelle Lee.

On June 21, WHQR put in for the employment history and salary of Michelle Lee. The college has yet to fulfill this request. They also didn’t fulfill the full personnel request on the employees listed above. HQR is still waiting on the following: (1) terms of any contract, whether written or oral; (2) date and type of any promotion, demotion, or other change in classification; (3) date and reasons for each promotion. The request included the full level of compensation, not just salary because, as open government experts note, compensation is “more than routine pay. It encompasses all forms of compensation, including benefits, incentives, and bonuses.”

Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations Sonya Johnson did note that for employees listed in the table above: “Please note there were no disciplinary actions taken with the former employees you inquired about.”

Spring pay raises

Spring wasn't all bad news for CFCC employees. While some saw their positions eliminated or restructured out from under them, others saw raises — although of varying amounts, according to public records of raises given in March, April, and May of this year.

In 2021, the legislature appropriated funding for the recruitment and retention of community college faculty in high-demand fields. This faculty teaches what are called Tier 1A courses, mainly health care and technical education, and Tier 1B courses, mainly lab-based sciences and college-level math.

For fiscal year 2021-2022, CFCC received $366,258 for these increases — and will receive $521,051 for 2022-2023.

According to records provided by CFCC, full-time faculty in those fields did receive that money, but the percentage increase varied widely between employees. The average increase was around 8%, but some employees received well over a 12% raise — for example, George DeBruhl in Career and Technical Education and Mary Skrabal in Health and Human Services.

Moreover, the college gave considerable salary increases with ‘other’ state funds to those in IT services, marketing, the business office, human resources, and student services. The average increase was 8% for a total of $362,148 in additional funding going towards paying those employee salaries. Some received an over 20% raise, like Erin Fabian in community relations/marketing and Sarah Lash in the business office.

From local funds, those employees in the business office, facilities management, and IT services got an average 11% raise from the college for a total of $71,136 in additional funding.

The college declined to answer questions about the process for determining these spring raises or why the raises varied from employee to employee.

Follow the reporting on CFCC over the last four years from WHQR and other media outlets, here.

Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR