Carroll to change insurance to improve salaries
In an effort to make salaries more competitive in the marketplace, starting July 1, Carroll Community College shifted dollars from its benefits program to increase compensation for faculty and staff.
According to a college-wide email sent from Marianne Anderson, executive associate, on behalf of Dr. Faye Pappalardo, college president, the following changes to Carroll’s medical insurance plan occurred on July 1:
- The current BluePreferred PPO will continue with only a change in the office visit co-payment from $10 to $20 per visit. The college’s contribution to that plan will change from 90% to 85%.
- The current BlueChoice Plan will continue with no changes in benefit structure, and the college’s contribution to that plan will remain at 94%.
- An additional CareFirst plan will be made available at a college contribution of 90%. That plan’s provider network will mirror the BluePreferred PPO but will require additional cost-sharing on the employee’s part when medical procedures are obtained.
Carroll’s salary structure has come under fire recently, after a published report in the Carroll County Times listed the pay rates of all benefit-eligible employees.
“There were some aberrations,” said Suzanne Dixon, associate English professor. “There were some things that really jumped out because the job description didn’t correspond with the salary and that was very troubling. When I saw some of the discrepancies, it was troubling, and it was hurtful and demoralizing. I was sort of let down.”
Dixon believes that faculty members who have Ph.D.s or those who serve as a department chair should be rewarded financially.
“I think people feel like they are valued according to the money that they’re making, and they would feel more valued and should be paid more,” said Dixon.
In many cases, department chairs are making less than the teachers they supervise.
“That’s not good business practice,” said Dixon.
Carroll administrators say the reason for this is because a changing marketplace has made it difficult to update salaries to today’s pay rates.
“We’ve known for awhile that chairs weren’t being paid enough,” said Pappalardo, who would also like to offer higher salaries to those who obtain Ph.D.s. “These are things we really want to look at.”
Besides faculty morale being affected, Carroll’s salary structure also affects their ability to hire. According to Pappalardo, the salary structure is currently one of the least competitive in the state of Maryland in comparison with other Maryland colleges and Carroll County Public Schools.
“In our initial hiring, we’re not hiring at a high enough level to attract good people. When we offer a job and it says salaries start at 40 (thousand) whatever a lot of people aren’t even going to bother to apply,” said Dixon. “So we’re already diluting the pool considerably and not attracting who we want to attract.”
Despite Carroll’s non-competitive salaries, Dixon says the college has been fortunate to hire people who are good at their jobs.
“We have oftentimes gotten really lucky getting really good people who do want to be here and will start at that salary,” said Dixon.
However, not all faculty salaries are low. The three highest paid professors at Carroll are Nancy Perry, director of the nursing program, Sharon Reid, physical therapy assistance director, and Carol Kolb, director of wellness and former assistant to the vice president of student and academic affairs.
Faculty members outside of the nursing and health fields oftentimes feel slighted because of the high salaries of the nursing professors, who get paid more because they can make more at a hospital.
“I understand that, but to teaching faculty that isn’t very satisfying. It seems to us like nurses are valued more than, for instance, professors in the humanities,” said Dixon. “So that is a little bit demoralizing, especially in light of the fact that nursing has a lighter student load than we have.”
Perry contends that the nursing professors’ salaries are fair considering that they not only take a pay cut of thousands of dollars to work at Carroll instead of the hospital but also the gravity of their profession.
“There are lives at stake when we are teaching and supervising student clinical performance. Each and every nursing faculty puts their professional license on the line with every patient cared for by a student,” said Perry. “Remember you or your family member’s life may very well be in a graduate’s hands in the future.”
With only so much money to go around, some have questioned whether the higher salaries for the professors in the health field have a detrimental affect on other departments.
“When you offer a higher salary, you get better people,” said Dixon. “Essentially, this means that we might be getting better qualified nurses than we are able to hire well-qualified mathematicians or teachers of the humanities or philosophers or English professors.”
(Click graph to enlarge. Staff Graphics: Joe Mercurio)
Pappalardo is hoping that the extra money saved on the health insurance program will help improve the salary situation. However, she admits that it will not fix everything.
According to Pappalardo, Carroll was one of only four community colleges in Maryland, out of 16 total, that offered raises in this year’s budget. That raise, which gave employees a 2% increase in salary, will be the first at Carroll in three years. According to Executive Vice President Alan Schuman, Carroll plans to evaluate its ability to provide this increase later in the fall.
Pappalardo ensures that the administration is continuing to look into the issue and trying to find a solution.
“We will work on it,” said Pappalardo, “We will do our best.”
Despite her concerns, the retiring Dixon believes in Dr. Pappalardo and believes there will be a solution.
“This is a good workplace and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” said Dixon.
Susan Dixon and Nancy Perry were the only faculty members willing to go on record.