Food for thought today about the role and qualifications of an educator at a community college campus versus a university. Harry Painter writes about Wake Tech’s decision to promote a substantial number of its instructors — 35 percent — from “instructor” to “professor” based on experience, degrees, etc.


The system has four tiers of promotion. Instructors with at least three years of full-time experience can apply for the rank of assistant professor. Five years makes one eligible for associate professor; seven, for full professor; and 12, for senior professor. A peer review committee decides whether to promote each individual.

Each promotion comes with a 3 percent raise, with raises capped at 6 percent. Requirements for promotion vary, Ryan said. Professors in academic fields might merit promotion for getting published in journals, presenting at conferences, and joining statewide associations and committees. Professors in more technical fields might warrant a new title for getting licensed, getting advanced degrees, or contributing to the employment of their students.

The new ranking system is not universally popular, however. A former instructor who was at Wake Tech when the discussions started told the Pope Center, “There was a lot of resistance from mostly folks who either a) did not qualify [for a promotion]; or b) they just flat-out wanted an egalitarian-type system.” Some of the leadership in the wider community college system also resisted, he said.

The introduction of ranks comes at a time when some community colleges are signaling that they want to move away from their work force training roots and become more like universities. States such as Michigan and Florida are allowing community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees, and California is considering it.