Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

‘It’s a hardship’ — Proposed rule change threatens rural nursing programs

A note from us

Welcome to Awake58!  If you received this email as a forward, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter.

A proposed rule change threatens rural nursing programs… Lt. Gov. Dalton has retired as president of Isothermal Community College and sat with us for an exit interview… Forsyth Tech received a $5,000,000 federal grant to push a regional collaboration forward… Amazon named Wake Tech a partner for robotics and mechatronic upskilling… And a lot more!

When we say that we are here to listen for issues that matter, our story on new regulations that could threaten the future of nursing programs for small and rural community colleges is a great example. Over the course of several NC Community College Presidents’ Association meetings, I heard multiple discussions of proposed new regulations on education requirements for nursing staff and the potential impacts for colleges across the state.

My colleague Michael Taffe now has the story. To sum it up — the Nursing Board has decided to increase the nursing education requirements from 50% of faculty holding a Master’s in Nursing to 80%. Rural college presidents note the combination of this requirement alongside faculty pay remaining stagnant poses a real challenge:

David Shockley, president of Surry Community College, said North Carolina’s community college system produces over half of the nurses in the state. He said the rule change has the potential to exacerbate the current nurse shortage.

“Of course we’re proponents for education. I think everybody should be a lifelong learner, that’s not it,” Shockley said. “But when you put this restriction on, you are hurting communities where it’s already tough to find nurses.”

Be sure to read the full story for more details.

Isothermal Community College was the first college I visited with the John M Belk Endowment’s team, and Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton was our first host. Last Friday was Dalton’s last day on the job, and my colleague Emily Thomas sat down with him for an exit interview. As a bonus, Thomas once worked for Dalton, and it was Dalton who introduced us to Thomas in the first place. One comment from Dalton will stick with me for a while:

We got to 17% unemployment at one point in time. And even though we had some companies like Facebook located here, there were not that many jobs and people were really depressed. As we came out of the recession, and this is true not only of Isothermal but of all community colleges, we were the beacon of hope. And if there’s going to be hope in the future, it’s going to be in obtaining greater skills – greater education to move forward. So, instilling in the people the idea that life can be better… To build up the hope of the community at the college, I think, was one of the biggest challenges we had.

I am grateful to call Lt. Gov. Dalton a friend — and our state owes him, and his beloved partner Lucille, a debt of gratitude for their public service.

I will be on the road to Central Carolina Community College, Forsyth Tech, and Surry Community College in the weeks ahead. If you are on those campuses, let me know what I should visit and what questions I ought to ask.

Thank you for reading Awake58 again this week! It is always appreciated.

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth – EdNC.org

PS – As the conversation around diversity, education, and equity continues to unfold, my colleague Mebane Rash shared a piece on how EdNC.org approaches our DEI work. Give her piece a read and let us know what you think.


EdNC reads

‘It’s a hardship’ — Proposed rule change threatens rural nursing programs

The North Carolina Board of Nursing oversees nurse licensing and approval of nurse education programs — including those at community colleges. The board’s new rule states 80% of full-time and 50% of part-time nursing faculty are required to hold a Master’s in Nursing moving forward. Previously 50% of a nursing program’s faculty were required to hold a Master’s degree.

The rule, set to take effect Jan. 1 of this year, was waived until 2021.

“This has been an ongoing — I don’t want to say problem — but an ongoing situation with North Carolina community colleges’ nursing programs of getting adequate faculty,” said Robin Harris, dean of health sciences at College of the Albemarle.

Given the importance of community colleges providing nurses — a particularly stark reality during COVID-19 — this discussion around new requirements is worth following. The Nursing Board will continue to discuss the change later this spring.

Click here for the story

Former Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton reflects on his career and the future of community colleges as he retires

As noted above, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton is retiring as president of Isothermal Community College. We could dedicate several issues of Awake58 to covering Dalton’s career and lifetime of service to the state, but instead I encourage you to read our exit interview with him. He offered this look ahead for our system and our state:

You hear a lot of discussion about free tuition at community colleges. I think that’s a good thing. I understand budgets, so you’ve got to make sure that you’re doing it in a responsible manner. But again, if you want to look at the future, look at history.

In the 20s and 30s, the Industrial Revolution was really beginning to rock and roll. And a lot of companies were saying, we need a better worker and they need to at least have a high school education. At that point in time, the 20s, 30s, and 40s, you had no free high school. States were not sponsoring that. But because of the market demand, very quickly everybody started offering high school – free education through high school so the business industry would have a better product.

What you hear from myFutureNC, and I agree with them, is that people need a high-quality degree or credential beyond high school. If you fully expect that, if it’s important for the economy, if we’re going to succeed, and if we’re going to compete in the global economy, then we need to give incentives and make that pathway as easy as we can for people to enroll, which compared to history, would mean free tuition. Again, if not free tuition, we need more scholarships to encourage people and ease their financial burden to get that credential or degree.

Margaret Annunziata is the new president of the college. You may read our question and answer session with her by clicking here.

Click here for the story

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the N.C. Community College System Conference

The North Carolina Community College System Conference will be held virtually from February 1 to March 12.

The conference aims to allow participants to “learn about guiding goals and innovations” and “share best practices in student success and retention.”

It began with a keynote from new system president Thomas Stith on Monday. Peter Hans, former president of the community college system and current president of the University of North Carolina System, will give a presentation on Monday, Feb. 15 at 9 a.m.

The conference will include live sessions on topics of student access and achievement, equity, and workforce connections. Roundtables and networking sessions are also scheduled.

EdNC will be covering the conference with a recap every week in our community college newsletter — Awake58 — and live on Twitter through @MichaelJTaffe and @NationHahn.

You can register at the conference website.

Click here to register

Around NC

A lot is going on across the 58

Before I share a snapshot of all of the activity going on across the state, I want to share a quick video featuring a number of familiar faces sharing why they read Awake58 and EdNC.org. Our thanks to JB Buxton, Bill McBrayer, MC Belk Pilon, Pamela Senegal, and Scott Ralls for sharing their reasons for reading Awake58. Give it a watch by clicking here.

Please feel free to share your own reason in response to this email — or by tweeting @Awake58NC.

The House Education Committees were announced — including the community college committee. Click here for the list. The Senate Committees can be found here. As you think about your own interactions with state government, check out Mebane’s state government 101 piece.

The first community college-related bill was filed this week — and it is a study bill focused on providing in-state tuition to residents of certain Georgia counties. This is not a new piece of legislation. Please check out our coverage of the past legislative attempts on this front.

Forsyth Tech received a $5,000,000 federal grant to “lead a consortium of eight community colleges across the Piedmont Triad in a project called Aligning the Workforce Education System for Manufacturing. Forsyth Tech is the only community college in North Carolina, only one of 11 colleges nationally to receive an award and one of two colleges receiving the maximum amount under the Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community Colleges program.”

Amazon named Wake Tech a partner in their Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship program.

Alamance Community College announced a partnership with Elon University and their local K-12 system to launch a teacher pipeline program: “The new Alamance Scholars Program, announced on January 28, will create a pathway from high school to a bachelor’s degree in education for students with financial need from across a variety of backgrounds who desire to earn a degree in education and make an impact in Alamance County.”

Cleveland Community College has broken ground on a building that they hope will be a future training center for manufacturing and other high-growth regional industries.

Richmond Community College opened a new campus this semester.

As part of a statewide rural broadband project, Stanly Community College was one of 20 community colleges selected to receive federal funding to improve its technology infrastructure.

From the State Board: “The State Board of Community Colleges Programs Committee will meet virtually on Feb. 4, 2021. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m. It is open to the public, but some portions of the meeting may be conducted in closed session, pursuant to state law. The meeting will be livestreamed on the NC Community College System Office YouTube channel. The meeting agenda can be found here.”


Other higher education reads

How the pandemic is propelling demand for short-term college programs

Enrollment is down across most higher education sectors, but PBS NewsHour takes a look at a surge in enrollment in some short-term workforce development programs. The Brookings Institute is also out with a report looking at the potential importance of apprenticeships for economic recovery post-COVID-19.

Our America: The HBCU Experience

ABC11 is “shining a light on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the history still being made.” The trailer is out now and you can view it here. The series will air on television — and the content will be on their website as well. In addition, give this podcast from Strada a listen to hear more about the potential lessons from HBCUs on student success.

Can community colleges be a post-COVID engine of economic recovery?

Our friends at the Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity caught up with Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of Opportunity America, a think tank focused on economic and social mobility, to discuss a study they are conducting on workforce development programs. This statement stood out:

The big challenge we found – and we knew we’d find it but had no idea of the scale – is funding. By law, you cannot use your Pell Grant for a short, noncredit course. I can use my Pell Grant to study Sociology 101 and earn an associate degree with zero value in the labor market. But I cannot use my Pell Grant to enroll in a 12-week welding program that will set me up to earn $150,000 a year. I mean, how crazy is that? And our data show community colleges struggling to cover the costs of workforce programs. Employers pay for about 20%. Colleges cobble together TANF money and other means-tested federal benefits and federal and state workforce dollars. But the lion’s share of funding, more than 40% of it, comes from students – often unemployed workers trying to reboot their careers. And in my view, this is something we need to address. We as a nation need to be doing more to help learners pay for job-focused education and training.

For the full piece, check out the Spotlight on Poverty & Opportunity. We’d be curious to hear your thoughts!

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.