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Awake58: Scott Ralls a finalist at Wake Tech

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Monday, November 26, 2018. Click here to subscribe. 

Scott Ralls a finalist at Wake Tech

We hope you survived the Thanksgiving dinner conversations and all of the turkey. This week Wake Tech and Vance-Granville announce their Presidential finalists … We wrap up Bright Spots, look ahead to the next legislative session, and highlight first gen college students… We also spotlight the debate around philanthropy and postsecondary… and spotlight a work-based learning opportunity ahead.

Last week I had the chance to spend time with my family, while also visiting President Garrett Hinshaw at Catawba Valley Community College and Michael Helmick at Western Piedmont Community College. Both of their institutions are playing critical roles in collaborative efforts that we have recently spotlighted:  K-64 in Catawba and Work in Burke.

Both efforts  underscore the need for collaboration, storytelling, and building a spirit of optimism in their local communities. They also underscore the need for leadership. A big part of our work over the next year will be continuing to track the various transitions in leadership across North Carolina. After all, strong colleges tend to have strong leadership.

We were reminded of this during an otherwise quiet week when Wake Tech Community College announced their finalists, which include former NC Community College President and current President of NoVa Community College Scott Ralls. Vance-Granville Community College also named their three finalists last week. We hope to cover the various transitions intensively, so stay tuned. If you have any thoughts or news on the transition front, just click reply. I am listening.

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday. All of the stories, all of the videos, all of the miles, and all of the events add up, but we want these resources to remain free for the people of North Carolina. That is why supporting our work is so important. If you have enjoyed our work to date, please consider making a gift by clicking here. A more informed and connected North Carolina is a greater North Carolina. That is the promise of EdNC. We work to tell the stories of what it means to be a state we can all call home, where we all belong, and where we understand the future doesn’t just happen to us — we can shape it. Together.

Thank you for reading and being part of this journey. It means a lot. We really appreciated the quality of the responses around the residency determination system. They will inform our coverage.

All the best,



EdNC Reads

Western Piedmont Community College works in Burke County

I had the chance to visit WPCC during our blitz in August, and I returned over Thanksgiving week. I am intrigued by the Work in Burke effort, which aims to bolster the perception of career opportunities in the region, expand postsecondary attainment, and more.

The next General Assembly session is going to feel different

The most recent election means the 2019 legislative session will feel different. Our senior reporter, Alex Granados, gives some context in this piece to help you understand what is ahead.

Insight from the ‘president of presidents’: A conversation with David Shockley of Surry Community College

“I love this community college. I love the spirit that we have. The excellence that we do year in and year out. The people, that’s our greatest resource that we have. It’s our people and our students, and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”

Ever thankful for North Carolina’s bright spots and our leaders who are working to build a greater North Carolina

We wrapped up the Bright Spots series in collaboration with myFutureNC and ncIMPACT last week. Please spend some time with the concluding piece. We hope the series has sparked conversations across the state around what we can do to boost educational attainment.

Bright Spots: STEM East

Bright Spots: K-64 in Catawba County


Worth a click 

The Summit for Work-Based Learning

On December 7, we will be attending this summit on work-based learning. We would love to see you there. The organizers state on the summit page, “Building on the good work that is happening in North Carolina, the summit will showcase a new model for engagement – one that is employer-led and built with the foundations of being able to share best-practices, access resources, and measure outcomes that allow for more informed, data-driven decision making.”

The tragedy of Michael Bloomberg’s latest act of mega-philanthropy

Michael Bloomberg gave $1.8 billion dollars to Johns Hopkins University. The author of this piece shows what he could have done with the money to generate more impact,  including either investing directly in community colleges or investing in an effort to build political will to increase funding for community colleges. What do you think he should have done?

As students flock to credentials other than degrees, quality-control concerns grow

What do all of the badges, certifications, and other microcredentials add up to? This piece spotlights a growing debate around what defines a quality credential in the face of this shifting landscape. I’m curious to know if you have participated in these discussions on your campus.

Advancing workforce development programs

State Senator-elect Todd Johnson, a member of the North Carolina Board of Community Colleges, wrote this op-ed juxtaposing the growing college debt load in the United States against the need for more postsecondary achievement with a call to look at alternatives beyond a four-year degree.

Can this 12-step program from Finland aid U.S. education?

Finland’s education system is heralded the world over. The authors of this piece include some advice from the Finns: “Improve, expand and destigmatize vocational and technical education.   Encourage more students to attend schools in which they can acquire valuable career/trade skills.”

By the numbers: Transitions

9th System President

In May of this year, Peter Hans became the ninth system president. The system first created the position in 1963. The longest presidency was Robert W. Scott from 1983 to 1995.

23 new presidents

From 2016-2018, the community colleges saw 23 new presidents at their schools. 2019 will see at least 8 new appointments. Dr. Janet Spriggs will become president of Forsyth Tech in the new year as will Dr. Darrin Hartness at Davidson County. Six searches remain open for 2019.

6 years and 5 days

The average experience for the current community college presidents is just over 6 years in office.  They range from three months to 30 years (Congratulations to Sandhills Dr. John Dempsey who hits this mark on January 1st).  Of the five presidents with 15+ years of experience, three are currently retiring.



EducationNC ( works to expand educational opportunities for all children in North Carolina, and increase their academic attainment. We believe a more informed, connected, and engaged North Carolina is a better North Carolina. Our work takes many forms including storytelling, research, data, and community engagement. Thank you so much for joining us in the conversation around our students, our state, and our future.


Perspectives needed

Do you have a story to share about a bright spot in your local community? We need your voice to tell the stories of our state’s 58 community colleges. We are now accepting first-person perspectives from anyone who wants to lift up their voice.

To learn more about submitting an article, click here. If you respond to this email, I am happy to help you think about how to frame your perspective and story.

Here are two recent examples worth reading:

Finding my bliss and using it to enrich others at CVCC

My life’s labyrinth to love for community colleges


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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.