Community colleges hiring lots new full time faculty, but some say it's not enough

Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California.
Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California.

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An influx of $62 million in new state funds is prompting many campuses in the California Community College system to go on a new faculty hiring spree to repair some of the damage from recession-era budget cuts.

Some full-time faculty hiring for fall of 2016:

  • Pasadena City College              59
  • Fullerton College                       53
  • Santa Ana College                    30
  • Los Angeles City College          15
  • East Los Angeles College          30
  • Pierce College                            42
  • Los Angeles Valley College        33

At Santa Ana, Pasadena, and Fullerton, this is the most new full-time faculty hired in the last three years.

Long Beach City College will bring on 28 new full time faculty, about a 15 percent increase.  On that campus, the hiring will mean more new full-time professors in career and technical education classes such as nursing, culinary arts, and computer technology – classes that have historically been taught by part-time faculty members. 

“One of strongest predictors to student success is their contact with faculty," said Jim Mahler, a community college rep with the California Federation of Teachers. 

At the Long Beach campus, nearly two thirds of students are the first to go to college.

“I think for our students, it’s a great benefit to bring in a fresh perspective, some fresh teaching, pedagogy, and most importantly, faculty who have been a lot closer to the experience of our current students,” said LBCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

In 1989, state leaders set a goal that 75 percent of instruction at California community colleges should be carried out by full-time faculty.

Right now, just over half of instruction at California community colleges is carried out by full-time faculty. (You can look up the percentage of full-time faculty at all 131 California community colleges here.)

And even with the new hires, the system won’t reach the goal anytime soon. You won’t see this much hiring next year, campus officials said, because the 2016-17 budget increases were not as generous.

“What we’re advocating for is some money every year for that purpose, in order to achieve the 75 percent,” said lobbyist Jonathan Lightman, executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.

Governor Jerry Brown has approved the current influx of funding on the condition that the community colleges take steps to help students earn their degrees and or transfer to four-year universities.

The latest figures show that fewer than half of the students who enroll in the state’s community colleges earn their degree or transfer to a four-year university within six years.

Nevertheless, advocates are preparing to make their case in Sacramento that more money is necessary.

“We should be supported more, because we are successful and because we are important and because people rely on us,” Lightman said.