South Texas College raises minimum wage by $2

Photo above: Andrea Rojas a student working in the College Connections department at South Texas College’s Pecan Campus assists students with admission and enrollment support. Students like Rojas will be among those who will see their pay increase to $15 an hour as a result from a decision by STC’s Board of Trustees, which has approved a recommendation to increase the minimum wage for all employees including students who hold jobs at one of the college’s six campuses. Photo: STC.

By Joey Gomez 

MCALLEN, TEXAS, July 27, 2023 – For the second year in a row, South Texas College Board of Trustees has approved a recommendation to increase the minimum wage for all employees including students who hold jobs at one of the six campuses.

“At STC, we are proud to say that we made it a priority to take better care of our employees and make STC one of the best places to work at,” said President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D. “We are among only a few colleges in Texas that are going from the $13 to the $15 minimum wage. I think that’s an incredible accomplishment, and I think it’s going to make a difference for our employees.”

At their July 25, 2023 meeting, South Texas College’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the minimum hourly starting rate for all employees to $15, which is an increase from $13 approved by the board in 2022. The minimum hourly starting rate then was $9.

The increases have come in response to inflation, higher cost of living and in an effort to retain and attract employees. 

The Board of Trustees also approved other market adjustments, including a 4% employee pay raise to help the college align salaries with peer institutions locally and throughout Texas. 

The market adjustments approved by the board will take effect on September 1, 2023, after approval of the Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget in August.  

The minimum wage increase and pay raise for employees will cost the college $6 million dollars in added benefits which the board considers a small price to pay for loyal and happy employees.

“Because we’ve been fiscally responsible over our 30-year history, we are able to keep making investments in our human capital a priority.  We are especially happy to ensure that every one of our employees begins their journey in our institution with a meaningful wage. All those individuals that make our institution an exceptional success deserve to enjoy a better quality of life and my fellow board members and I are honored to be able to make this possible.” said STC Board Chair Rose Benavidez.

STC currently has 2,200 full-time and part-time employees and 20% (374) of active employees make between $12-$15.

“Employees are extremely appreciative of the Board of Trustees actions, and President Solis’s support in considering the impact that high inflation is causing on families’ ability to make ends meet as well as reaching financial goals,” said STC Vice President of Finance Administrative Services, Mary Elizondo. “The college has been proactive in boosting wages to provide some protection against rising prices.”

Given the competitive hiring market and increase in remote job postings, STC Human Resource personnel see the increase as a welcome recruiting tool.

“By approving a new minimum wage of $15 an hour at South Texas College our Board of Trustees has made a unique effort in recognizing competitive salaries and pay raises that are critical to supporting our talented employees,” said STC Executive Director of Human Resources and Talent Development Zachary Suarez, D.P.A.  

STC students employed with the college who are just finding out about the board decision say the increase goes a long way to assisting the families they are supporting.

Starr County work study and first-generation Criminal Justice student Daiyanara Gloria supports her family by working on campus.

“I feel this is a great idea because those who apply themselves to working should be rewarded for their efforts as they strive for excellence,” Gloria said. “What an amazing opportunity this is to be able to continue with my studies at STC. Now I can be on campus much more often without having to worry so much on expenses like gas or even lunch for the day.”

Another Pecan Campus student, Raul Hernandez, is also happy to see his pay increase to $15 an hour.

“This is very exciting. I can imagine there are many students like me who are working to support their families,” said Raul Hernandez, a student in the Electrician Technology program. “This will certainly help me to reach my educational goals. I am grateful.”