At a recent State of Education luncheon hosted by the Midland Chamber of Commerce, college presidents from Midland College, Odessa College and University of Texas Permian Basin are sounding alarm bells about the lack of affordable housing in the area. According to the higher education leaders, they are constantly battling against the area’s housing market and poverty – making recruiting for jobs within their institutions increasingly more difficult and more difficult for students and the community as a whole to succeed.
Presidents Steve Thomas of Midland College, Gregory Williams of Odessa College and Sandra Woodley of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin discussed some of their struggles.
“I love the Permian Basin,” Woodley said. “I’m so happy here as an outsider coming in. And I just find such pleasure in the weather and in the people. It’s just a wonderful place to live. But I have heartbreaking instances in my own university where my faculty and staff have a very difficult time affording the constant increases in their rent and finding a place to live. I’m humbled by the fact that I beg to bring in an amazing, talented group of faculty and administrators to help me, but it’s not easy to do.
“I have dedicated faculty who have been in my university for a long time, who find themselves making much less than the market rate that I have to pay for new faculty to come in, so that compression is a serious challenge, and I want to make sure I take care of the faculty who have been loyal to this university,” she said.
Woodley said UTPB is looking into the possibility of creating what she described as a faculty and staff village just for UTPB workers and their families.
UTPB sees value in contributing to affordable communities for K-12th grade teachers and first responders as well.
Woodley said the the University will be increasing salaries for faculty next year to help alleviate the cost-burden employees are experiencing.