The Northern Marianas College continues to lose full-time faculty members, a critical void that its president wants to address in time for the opening of classes for the new fall semester next month.
NMC president Sharon Y. Hart disclosed to Saipan Tribune that another full-time faculty staff resigned on Friday due to the ongoing uncertainties in the government's pension program.
She said the college has been conducting searches among its existing staff to tap qualified people who can immediately fill critical vacancies.
Hart could not immediately say how many full-time faculty the college currently has but described the figure as “far behind” the number of full-time instructors in other community colleges with the same size as NMC.
During the term of former Faculty Senate president Dr. John Griffin last year, NMC had 28 full-time instructors and 29 adjunct or part-time faculty members. These numbers have since gone down due to retirements, resignations, and other factors.
Hart said Friday that among the factors behind many faculty members' resignations is concern about their wages and salaries. “I am losing faculty right and left because people are leaving us because we can't provide comparable salaries.and these issues must be addressed,” said Hart.
NMC adopted a policy on promotions in 1989 but this has never been implemented.
Hart acknowledged the need to adjust the wages of college personnel but its tight budget prevents NMC from doing so.
When asked about the possibility of enforcing the long-delayed salary adjustment for personnel, Hart said: “Unless our budget goes up, we can't. Now, we're just limping along.”
A budget bill prefiled at the House of Representatives last week proposed just $5.7 million for the college in fiscal year 2013.
Hart told Saipan Tribune that NMC's budget has been decreasing in the last five years. The budget for the college, she said, has been slashed by almost half from where it was five years ago while the number of its enrollees has since doubled.
Balancing the college operation with limited funding while at the same time adhering to accreditation standards is “really a major challenge for NMC,” according to the official.
The number of faculty is vital to accreditation standards, which usually require a mix of full-time and adjunct faculty members.
HR director/legal counsel
Hart disclosed that the college's human resource manager, Bobbie Hunter, has resigned from her position to become a full-time faculty member.
The college has already posed an announcement for the job-this time with the combined task of also being the college's legal counsel.
Hart described the new approach as a “creative way” that will be cost-effective for the college. However, hiring a new HR/legal counsel doesn't mean that the college will no longer seek outside professionals, she added.
“But really, our goal is to prioritize where we can spend and try to create a balance,” she said.
Besides full-time faculty members, announcements are ongoing for adjunct instructors and other replacement positions in other areas. These announcements can be found at the college's website, http://www.nmcnet.edu/.