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A note from Nation

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The official budget request for budget stabilization has been announced… Thomas Stith announced a number of significant personnel changes for the system office at the State Board meeting… Central Piedmont Community College has been shutdown due to a ransomware attack and we caught up with them to hear what has been going on… We look at the new RDS language that will go before the General Assembly this session…

Last week was a busy one across the community college system — and in Raleigh.

On Wednesday, system President Thomas Stith presented to a legislative committee and officially revealed the budget stabilization request for the system: $61 million. This one-time funding request of the legislature is designed to account for enrollment drops across the state. If you wish to see Stith’s full presentation, click here.

Other budget requests include $28.5 million in one-time funding and $3.5 million in recurring funding for IT upgrades (particularly relevant given the recent cyberattack on Central Piedmont Community College) and $60.2 million in faculty pay increases. Stith stated that faculty pay increases were the primary agenda item for the system given that it has been multiple years since the last system-wide increase — and according to the data he shared, North Carolina ranks 40th out of 50 states in community college faculty pay. His case includes a note that the colleges remained open throughout COVID-19. For more on the case for faculty pay, click here.

The State Board of Community Colleges met on Thursday and Friday and announced an array of senior staff changes, including the departure of Director of Government Relations Mary Shuping. She has served in the system office since 2012. As a point of personal privilege, I would like to thank Mary for her service. When we first began our coverage of community colleges, Mary was one of my first meetings — and I think I’ve called or texted her most weeks during the legislative session to ask for clarification on legislation.

I also had the chance to travel to Central Carolina Community College last week. CCCC President Lisa Chapman and her team walked us through their strategic plan, discussed their new approach to student support that they have labeled “holistic and personalized,” and showcased their vet tech program. We also spent time exploring their work across the three counties they serve, including a focus on sustainable agriculture and health care.

Chapman was also the latest guest on our Awake58 podcast last week. We had a wide ranging conversation — including a discussion of our shared love for the Tar Heels — and Chapman discussed why CCCC needs to see budget stabilization secured, her perspective on improving our transfer process, and more.

Be sure to listen to the end for Chapman’s interview on the future of rural community colleges. Among other things, she told me, “I do believe that that our North Carolina Community Colleges are the way for us to help with the economic mobility that is essential for our economic success — and sustained success in North Carolina. So as we have more and more conversations with those businesses and industries, part of what they tell us is we need to be able to educate, train, retrain, work with folks … While we’ve had great growth here in jobs, we’ve also had some companies that have pivoted and have downsized. And so we’ve got employees that need upskilling, or rescaling and retraining.”

This week, I will be visiting Forsyth Tech and Surry Community College along with my colleague Emily Thomas. Follow us on Twitter @Awake58NC for more!

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth – EdNC.org


EdNC reads

Personnel changes, legislative priorities shape State Board meeting

The North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges met Thursday and Friday last week. Here’s what you need to know from my colleague Michael Taffe:

  • Mary Shuping, who has served as director of government relations since 2012, announced she would be transitioning away from the N.C. Community College System. “Her heart will always be with us,” said System President Thomas Stith.

  • The Board discussed the annual report on Career and College Promise (CCP) and Cooperative Innovative High School (CIHS). According to the report, 31% of all high school graduates enrolled in at least one dual enrollment course in the 2019-2020 school year — a 4% increase from the previous year.

  • The Board extended allowances for students with outstanding fees to enroll for an additional 180 days. “Essentially what this rule does is it allows colleges to continue to enroll students, and distribute credentials to students if they had an outstanding balance due to COVID-19,” said Elizabeth Grovenstein, Vice President and CFO of the N.C. Community College System.

  • The Board denied an application from Central Piedmont Community College to form a medical sonography program. South Piedmont Community College had previously objected to the application over concerns that it would dilute their available pool of clinical sites. “We would hope that the colleges work together to resolve the issue and come up with a compromise to help expand the program and work together on that,” said Board member Sam Powell.

Some classes resume after cyberattack at Central Piedmont Community College

On the evening of Feb. 10, the IT team at Central Piedmont Community College discovered they had been a victim of a cyberattack, and they immediately moved to shut down their technology infrastructure — including both their email system and Blackboard learning management system.

In the era of virtual classes, this meant that many classes had to be canceled aside from a handful of face-to-face courses. Beginning Feb. 22, CPCC resumed all on-campus classes and some online classes.

My colleague Emily Thomas caught up with several CPCC leaders over the course of her reporting:

“No entity, no threat actor, should try to take the ability of someone’s educational path from them. A ransomware attack feels very business oriented. It feels very operational. When you hit an institution of higher learning, this is about people, because we are in the people business,” said CPCC President Kandi Deitemeyer.

We will have more on cybersecurity and IT in the months ahead.

Click here for more

UNC president Peter Hans supports common course numbers for UNC System, raising out-of-state cap for HBCUs

UNC System President Peter Hans, former president of the community college system, keynoted the community college system’s virtual conference last week. Hans made news with a discussion of permanently allowing HBCUs to raise their cap for admitting out-of-state students. He also spoke out on the rise of for-profit colleges.

The news that might be most of interest to the community college system is the potential for common course numbering among the UNC system:

Hans, formerly the president of the N.C. Community College System, spoke in support of common course numbering among UNC System schools. This is part of a greater push to reduce administrative hurdles for students, especially those transferring from community colleges to the university system.

“I’ve devoted a lot of my time over the last few years — both in my prior role in community colleges and universities — supporting myFutureNC and the statewide goal of seeing two million more North Carolinians with a degree or valuable credential by 2030,” Hans said. “Reducing administrative burden on students is the low-hanging fruit of that effort. And we owe our state an all-out effort to get rid of any bureaucratic barrier that’s holding our students back from learning new skills and earning new credentials.”

For more from Hans’ remarks, click below.

Click here for more

N.C. community colleges prove vital to COVID-19 vaccine distribution

The vitally important work of COVID-19 vaccine distribution is continuing across the state — and community colleges are playing an important role in many counties. In recent conversations with college leaders and staff across the state, I’ve heard numerous examples of colleges volunteering their space, staff, and resources to assist with the roll-out.

Michael Taffe reports on the reality on the ground through the prism of Blue Ridge Community College, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Haywood Community College, and Mitchell Community College. We know numerous other colleges are other assisting, so feel free to share your story directly with us by replying to this email.

Laura Leatherwood, president of Blue Ridge CC, spoke proudly of the college playing a role, but I think she speaks for everyone when she told Michael, “I’m just looking forward to the day that we get everybody vaccinated, and I can go back to running a college instead of a vaccine clinic.”

New manufacturing and textile network launches from Catawba Valley and Gaston College

The Manufacturing & Textile Innovation Network (MTIN) collaboration between Catawba Valley Community College and Gaston College is spotlighted in this piece from my colleague Alli Lindenberg:

The new two-year associate degree program in textile technology that the network will support begins in fall 2021.

“MTIN provides an opportunity to link education and training to the advanced materials and textile industry. This partnership includes a two-year associate degree, short-term workforce development programs, and creation of a pipeline of talent with Career and College Promise programs in our public schools,” said John Hauser, president of Gaston College.

For more, check out the full story by clicking here.

What we're listening to this week

Awake58: A conversation with President Lisa Chapman of Central Carolina Community College

This week, Nation Hahn catches up with Dr. Lisa Chapman, president of Central Carolina Community College. Chapman began her academic career at Central Carolina, before rising to a leadership role at the system office in Raleigh. She recently returned home to the college. During the course of our conversation, she shares what it feels like to go home again, what drew her back to Central Carolina, what reforms might be needed on transfers, and why budget stabilization is essential for community colleges across the state.

The Key – Ep. 38: Combatting Cheating in the COVID Era

Many colleges are seeing increases in reports of academic misconduct. In this episode, North Carolina State University’s Bradley Davis discusses a nearly three-fold increase in academic violations, what’s causing it, and how university officials are responding to it. And two national experts, David Rettinger and Kate McConnell, explore steps faculty members and administrators can take both to minimize cheating and to build a culture of academic integrity – with the goal of improving student learning at the same time.

Give the Awake58 podcast a listen

Community college system conference highlights

The 2021 North Carolina Community College Conference continued this week, including a keynote from UNC System President Peter Hans. Check out Michael Taffe’s full write-up by clicking here. Here are additional highlights from Michael:

Monday, February 15

  • Hans pointed to the negative impact of for-profit colleges as a need for raising awareness of community college programs. “Far too many students who went looking for a real education were instead deceived by some — not all, but some — for-profits right here in North Carolina,” he said. “Thousands of students who needed help were left to cope with the fallout from schools that borrow the credibility of college but offered very little of the value.”
  • Hans also said he wants to raise the out-of-state student cap for HBCUs from 18% to 25%. “I’m actually right now working to pass a change in our Board policy, allowing five HBCUs to take a greater number of out-of-state students,” he said.

Wednesday, February 17

Administrators from Pitt Community College presented on strategies to support first-generation students. They emphasized the need for a clear definition of who qualifies as first-generation, including what degree(s) student’s parents hold and how present they were in a student’s upbringing. 

Friday, February 19 

Leaders from Wilkes Community College and the Belk Center for Community College Leadership presented on their strategic planning process. Jeff Cox, president of Wilkes Community College, said they’ve focused on building equity and labor market outcomes. 

“We engaged 200+ folks in our community in the process. Our K-12 partners, local government officials, business leaders,” he said.

What we’re watching for

This week will conclude the conference for 2021. 

Tuesday, February 23 at 1 p.m.: Impacts of Success Coaching on Student Retention and Completion

An update on the Residency Determination Service

EdNC has reported on the Residency Determination Service (RDS) process at North Carolina community colleges. Since 2015, RDS has gone through several iterations, including a state law change. Emily Thomas and Michael Taffe listened in on the State Board meeting last week for this update:

The Board approved a provision to allow all high students enrolled for at least one year in North Carolina to receive in-state tuition status at community colleges. Shuping said this was largely done for edge case students who may be trying to establish residency separate from their parent or guardian.

“They’re going to be allowed to receive in-state tuition as long as they were U.S. citizens, and they were enrolled in a North Carolina public school or North Carolina home school for the entire year prior to their graduation, graduated from that North Carolina School and, due to a lack of evidence, they were unable to establish residency for tuition purposes through the RDS system,” Shuping said. “So this would take care of those students who were falling in this very narrow category.”

The language will now go before the legislature for a statutory change.

EdNC will continue reporting on RDS and a future series will highlight the evolution of the process since the most recent change in RDS in 2019.


Around NC

Ferrel Guillory is out with a perspective titled: Post-pandemic, the need for wider education — and hope. Guillory pointed out remarks from both UNC-Chapel Hill entrepreneur in residence Buck Goldstein and UNC system president Peter Hans: “Free college is an idea whose time has come,” Goldstein declared, mentioning President Biden’s plan that envisions a combination of federal and state funding. “Making college free will be a big first step toward reaching those who until now have not pursued education beyond high school.”

Also in the news…

A spotlight on Asheboro City Schools’ focus on career and technical education beginning at a particularly young age.

Belmont Abbey College and Gaston College have officially joined forces to help Gaston College students achieve their goal of a bachelor’s degree. According to Stephanie Michael with Gaston College: “Named ‘Belmont Abbey College Connect,’ the new agreement provides qualified students an easier pathway to their next degree. The program allows currently enrolled Gaston College students a direct-entry pathway to Belmont Abbey College upon graduation from Gaston College. Qualified students must simply apply for admission, be in good standing at Gaston and other institutions attended, demonstrate good citizenship and conduct, and earn and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 at Gaston College and a minimum GPA of 2.20 in their most recent term.” For more, click here.

Cleveland Community College is launching a new farming program 🌽🌽 oriented around stacking credentials.

We know enrollment is lagging at most colleges due to the impacts of COVID-19. The High Point Enterprise takes a look at the trend through the prism of Guilford Tech.

The North Carolina School of Science and Math announced an anonymous donation of $7,500,000 last week to support their new Morganton campus.

Amazon and Wake Tech Community College shared more last week about their new partnership focused on mechatronics.


Other higher education reads

For colleges, $7 billion in federal broadband aid highlights extent of digital divide

Higher Ed Dive takes a look at the federal broadband aid package through the prism of where this round of funding will go — and what else might be needed. One key excerpt: “New America, which has advocated for expanding broadband access beyond what the latest relief package calls for, estimated that around 4 million college students have difficulty accessing the internet. In a recent survey, the think tank found that one in five people who stopped taking classes or chose not to enroll at a community college this fall said they lacked the technology or internet access to take classes online.”

Effort Seeks to Support Rural Community College Students Seeking Jobs

Inside Higher Ed has the news: “Achieving the Dream, a nonprofit organization focused on community college student success, on Tuesday announced the first institutions participating in a new initiative called Building Resiliency in Rural Communities for the Future of Work. The initiative aims to increase rural colleges’ capacity to provide students with the skills they need to enter the workforce and to connect students to well-paid jobs.”

Halifax Community College will be one of the initial colleges in the initiative.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.