Sally Newton Fairbank, Coordinator of Paralegal Studies, Comments to the BOT | Sept 19, 2019

Good evening. I am Sally Newton Fairbank, Coordinator of Paralegal Studies at COD. In 2006, I was hired from South Suburban College 2006 to begin the paralegal program here, and I am very proud of it. Our students get good jobs and their employers sing their praises. Many go on to law school and are now practicing attorneys. You just heard from one of them, Margaret Herrmann, who completed our program and is now a patent attorney.

I am here to talk about how the administration’s proposal to adjust the faculty salary scale so that it no longer gives credit for advanced degrees will be detrimental to our program, our funding sources, and our students.
The proposed pay scale is NOT in line with our peers. Recently one of our adjuncts, Carol Carlson, left to coordinate the paralegal program at Harper College. She taught many law-related classes here, and had won numerous awards. Carol wanted to stay here and teach, but there was no full-time faculty position. Her pay at Harper takes into consideration her law degree, her years of working as an attorney, and her teaching experience. It far exceeds what is being offered by COD in its contract proposal. I asked her if she would come back to COD if there were a position open, and accept the salary that administration seeks to pay new faculty. She said no, much as she liked COD, she wouldn’t take a pay cut to teach here.

Harper College is our competition. If Harper pays its faculty more than COD, that’s where the good teachers will go, and students will follow. Competition is increasing. Recently faculty members at both Morton College and Triton College have asked me for advice in setting up new paralegal programs at their schools. With more programs opening, there will be more competition for students as well as qualified faculty. Don’t we want COD to be the first choice not only for area students, but area faculty as well?

COD’s proposed salary scale will have an impact on outside funding. An area professional I spoke to recently was considering funding a scholarship for COD students, but is now reconsidering, after learning of the administration’s plans to disregard advanced degrees in its salary scale. If COD is no longer interested in recognizing and paying top talent, this individual will take his donation dollars elsewhere.

Isn’t it ironic that an institution of higher learning doesn’t value higher learning? We tell students to come here to broaden their opportunities and increase their earning potential. If they earn a Ph.D., we might even put them on our webpage as a poster child for the success that our students can achieve. Yet, if those same former students would want to teach here, we would give no credit on the salary scale for their degree – they might as well have stopped with their Bachelor’s. It appears that the only time COD cares about their education is when COD is getting their tuition dollars.

A wise person once said, “Don’t tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do, and I’ll tell you what you believe.” COD administrators give lip service to the high esteem in which they hold faculty, with platitudes and praise. We are referred to as “valued faculty” in college communications. However, what COD does is spend its money on building expansions, new buildings, new administrators, and the approximately 15 new navigators, who were hired last year.

Actions speak louder than words. To keep our programs top-notch, to keep our students proud of where they go to school, to keep donors excited and interested in funding scholarships, and to attract and maintain the highest quality of faculty, we need to be offered a salary structure that recognizes professional and educational accomplishments.

Since COD’s inception over 50 years ago, it has grown in stature and reputation nationally. Let’s maintain its quality and prestige by attracting the best teaching faculty in the area, and giving our DuPage County residents a college that they can be proud to attend.