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CFCC trustees approve roughly $43,000 raise, $25,000 bonus for President Jim Morton

CFCC Union Station
Benjamin Schachtman
CFCC Union Station

Morton has received at least a 10% raise every year since 2021, largely with county funds, bringing his current salary to over $400,000, effective July 1. Morton’s salary increases have outpaced those for employees, and tops most other local administrative heads. But this year, not all CFCC trustees voted in favor of another large increase.

On Thursday, the Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees voted to give President Jim Morton a significant raise — 12% — and a sizeable bonus of $25,000. They also approved extending his contract by a year, now set to run through May 2029.

Based on past compensation information, the 12% raise increases Morton’s salary by $43,355 — from $361,296 to around $404,763. [Note: WHQR has asked CFCC to confirm Morton's new salary.]

Morton also received a 12% raise in 2023, and a 10% raise in both 2022 and 2021.

Much of Morton’s pay raises have come from local county-appropriated funds; as of last year, around $189,000 of Morton’s roughly $361,000 salary came from the county.

Related: CFCC President Jim Morton's compensation is outpacing almost all local leaders and college presidents

Both Morton’s salary and the rate at which it has increased have outpaced other top administrators like City of Wilmington manager Tony Caudle, New Hanover County manager Chris Coudriet, and school superintendent Dr. Charles Foust. Morton's new salary is now higher than UNCW Chancellor Aswani Volety's 2023 salary of $381,583 — although it's worth noting Volety's position also comes with a residence and a vehicle.

Morton’s salary also outpaces most other community college presidents — and the head of the state’s community college system. Of the most highly compensated North Carolina community college presidents, Morton is the only one lacking a doctorate or post-undergraduate degree; most previous CFCC presidents had doctorates, but the position requirements were weakened before Morton’s hire.

Past raises have almost all been approved unanimously, with the notable exception of Ray Funderburk, the lone dissenting vote in 2022. Funderburk was later removed from the board in after a public hearing.

This year, however, several trustees dissented, including Deborah Dicks Maxwell, who also serves as the president of the North Carolina NAACP, Deloris Rhodes, Bruce Shell, and Jonathan Barfield, who is also a New Hanover County commissioner.

Barfield said he would have supported up to a 6.8% raise, based on the county’s approach which includes a 3.8% cost of living increase and up to 3% for merit-based increases. But he said he could not support the full 12% increase — or the $25,00 bonus.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to note that Trustee Bruce Shell also voted against Morton's raise. Shell is a former New Hanover County manager and New Hanover County Board of Education member.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.