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What is next for community colleges across NC?

A note from us

Welcome to Awake58!  If you were forwarded this newsletter, please click here to subscribe.

A look at CPCC’s One College approach… The Dallas Herring Lecture is today — as is our Virtual Town Hall with author Paul Tough… We spotlight the Food Services Technology program at Carteret CC… It is Apprenticeship Week in our state… the fallout from the Guilford Tech ransomware attack continues… CC Daily explores what might come for community colleges from President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda…

I am deeply grateful for all of the kind notes last week regarding my mom’s passing. Your kind words, stories of addiction in your own family, and prayers gave me strength. This is my first full week back to work since her death, but even in my time away I’ve been fortunate to visit several community colleges. Below I will share some of my takeaways, but I wanted to particularly spotlight a visit to Central Piedmont Community College.

CPCC President Kandi Deitemeyer and I have caught up frequently throughout the year regarding the topic of social mobility. Way back in February on a cold Friday afternoon when we were both in Washington, DC, Deitemeyer reached out to share that the school’s work with the Aspen Institute had led them to identify a number of pathways to tackle the critical issue of social mobility.

A few weeks ago, I was able to meet CPCC faculty and tour a massive new building that is under construction that will make some of those pathways tangible.

Deitemeyer opened our conversation regarding their implementation of the “One College” model by sharing, “The goal for the One College model is for a prospective student to come in to the college, tell us what they are hoping to accomplish in life, and our staff can then guide them. They should be able come in one door, get exactly what they need, and proceed without having to understand the complexities and bureaucracy behind the scenes in higher education.”

As my day at CPCC unfolded, I was fortunate to meet the staff who have made this vision a reality over the last 18 months. The process began, in part, with Achieving the Dream and the Aspen Institute reengaging with the college by going through data, conducting focus groups, and more. Their first recommendation was to form a student success team — and this team immediately mapped the ideal student experience. The team quickly realized the student experience looked far more like a spider web than a linear journey, and they have set out to change that approach. I will share more details from this story soon.

The CPCC team also led me on a tour of a 180,000+ square foot building under construction that will serve as the front door of CPCC for all of Charlotte. The building will host a library that includes a maker lab, instructional classrooms, and a theater space. Many of these spaces will be utilized for community engagement within the broader Charlotte community. But more importantly for CPCC’s “One College” goal, prospective students will walk through the front door of the college and will be served by the same staff through a similar process whether they are seeking a GED, workforce credential, associate degree, or transfer degree. Stay tuned for more on this new construction project and the implementation of their plans as I continue to cover the story.

If you are reading this email on Tuesday morning, we are likely currently hosting a virtual town hall on social mobility with Paul Tough, Vance-Granville CC president Rachel Desmarais, Wayne CC president Thomas Walker, and Wake Tech president Scott Ralls. Follow us on Twitter @Awake58NC, @mosborne917, and @NationHahn for more. 

You may still register for the webinar up to 9:00am today. Please RSVP by clicking here.

It is great to be back. I hope to see you soon!


Nation Hahn

Head of Growth,

P.S. – A note from my colleague, Kaidyn Radford: Are you a community college student, faculty member, or administrator interested in sharing your educational journey? I’d love to hear from you! I am producing a new podcast dedicated to lifting up the stories of community college students from all walks of life to better understand educational equity and the experiences of those in the community college system right now. If you’re interested in being a part of this series, please email Kaidyn Radford at [email protected] with a short bio and the name of your community college!

EdNC reads

Apprenticeship Week for North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper named this week (Nov. 9-13) Apprenticeship Week in North Carolina. The proclamation is preceded by the following statement: “Whereas, the State of North Carolina is committed to connecting job seekers to employers through the North Carolina Community College System’s ApprenticeshipNC program, which ensures that people in our state have a relevant and efficient workforce-development system that develops skilled talent to meet the current and future needs of workers and businesses.”

We have covered the rise of apprenticeships extensively, including a surge in registered apprenticeships in North Carolina, spotlights on programs including Made in Henderson County, and a spotlight on RockATOP in Rockingham County.

My travels in recent weeks

My own work travels during the past month of bereavement leave led me to A-B Tech CC, Blue Ridge CC, Montgomery CC, and Rockingham CC. These visits pushed my total NC community college visits to 39. (Please note: Our team has been to all 58 community colleges — many of them multiple times).

One through line for all of these visits was the rise of apprenticeships and the connection between community colleges and workforce development. 

While visiting A-B Tech, president John Gossett led us to the Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast. John “Puff” Irvin, head of the Institute and the host of a relatively new podcast that will apparently feature Gossett soon, shared more about the Institute’s work to connect graduates to a wide array of jobs across the craft beverage industry. 

Gossett then led us to the Business Incubation program on the other side of the building to discuss the connection between Small Business Centers and the myFutureNC attainment goal of 2 million high-quality credentials or postsecondary degrees by 2030. Gossett pointed out that if the goal is designed to close the skills gap and connect individuals to high-quality careers then the work of Small Business Centers needs to be included even if the programs do not award certificates or degrees because they do connect individuals to employment — and graduates from the incubators also often go on to provide additional jobs.

Blue Ridge CC president Laura Leatherwood and her team led us through their strategic plan. Blue Ridge was in the midst of their strategic plan process when the myFutureNC goal was released — and this allowed the college to build several key tenants of their plan around the attainment effort. 

Montgomery CC introduced us to their unique programs that are tailored to local needs. I’d encourage you to read my colleague Mebane Rash’s piece from our first visit to Montgomery CC for more context on their work. 

One piece of the conversation from our trip to Montgomery that sticks with me was our discussion around the budget cliff potentially facing community colleges in the coming years due to the state’s revenue picture. Montgomery CC president Chad Bledsoe told us that the legislature passing budget stabilization to account for enrollment declines due to COVID-19 was “essential” and shared that new positions and equipment wouldn’t happen without the funding — and that cuts might also be a necessity.

Lee Proctor, Vice President of Instruction at Montgomery, went on to share the old adage that, “We don’t have any fat left. We are going to be cutting through muscle and heading towards bone next.”

All of these conversations have underscored the importance of the next session of the General Assembly — particularly the budget negotiations — and the need for postsecondary leaders to remain focused on what will face their institutions in the years ahead even as the day-to-day crisis from the pandemic remains part of their lives.

This cooking class is changing one student’s outlook on school, work, and life

Alli Lindenberg, our multi-media reporter, recently visited Carteret CC to spend a day understanding the college’s programs as well as their approach to engaging with their broader community. While there, she met Odin Bright. Bright, a junior at Croatan High School, is taking Food Services Technology classes at Carteret this fall, and they have unlocked a newfound love for learning.

Lindenberg captures Bright’s transformation in her story:

“Before I entered this program, I was having trouble. So I was looking for different options,” Bright said. 

He asked one of his teachers about the food service technology program, hoping to learn more. Once he knew more, he eagerly enrolled. And although he just joined the program this fall, he is already reaping the benefits.

“It’s helped me significantly with my grades and at home. I’ve learned how to cook, before I didn’t know how to cook, or anything else. Now I can prepare big meals for my family,” Bright said. 

For more on the Food Services Technology program — and to learn more about Bright’s aspirations — click through for the full piece.

Around NC

Our colleagues at the NC State Belk Center will host the Dallas Herring Lecture from 1-3:00 p.m. today. As they describe it, “This year’s speaker will be Dr. Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College, and she will be sharing her thoughts under the title of Insights from the Pandemic: The Reckoning and the Hope at Our Nation’s Community Colleges. Like lightning across the higher education landscape, the COVID pandemic illuminates the fragile conditions of community colleges and their students across the nation. Urban or rural, large or small, each institution is suddenly faced with the consequences from years of systematic defunding of public higher education. In communities of poverty and communities of color, where community colleges represent the best hope for social and economic mobility, the pandemic is a simultaneous moment of reckoning and hope.” Follow along on Twitter through the hashtag #DHL2020.

We are now a week out from the 2020 election, and I wanted to spotlight this piece from CEO Mebane Rash who writes, “Back in February 2018, when he was visiting North Carolina, Jeremy Anderson, president of Education Commission of the States, said in states where leaps and bounds are being made, leaders have found ways to work across difference. ‘It’s a simple litmus test,’ he said. ‘Can the people who can move this policy meet for coffee even if they disagree and talk through some of these differences?'”

As Mebane goes on to note, we’ve been asking people to share coffee ever since.

And check out this accompanying piece that takes a look at unofficial results from local elections — as you well know, county commissioners and school board members impact the day-to-day lives of our communities deeply. 

I would also encourage you to take a look at CC Daily’s analysis of President-elect Biden’s potential community college agenda.

Shout out to our colleague Caroline Parker for being featured in a recent podcast from our friends at the Institute for Emerging Issues. Give it a listen! She was on the podcast to discuss our recent Anchored in Hayesville documentary that we released. I would encourage you to give it a watch when you have time!

The Daily Reflector reports: “Pitt Community College President Lawrence Rouse, a Voorhees College graduate, will be inducted into his alma mater’s Hall of Fame this month for outstanding contributions and service to the community.” Kudos, President Rouse!

The Guilford News & Record takes a look at the ongoing fallout from the ransomware attack at Guilford Tech — including the possibility that the breach may have impacted tens of thousands.

Other higher education reads

The students left behind by remote learning

Shout out to an Awake58 reader who lifted up this piece from ProPublica titled “The students left behind by remote learning.” This long piece looks at the myriad of harms for students and families who are undertaking remote education during this year. We know the dangers of COVID-19, but the author astutely points out the other dangers from students not being in school. What do you think of the author’s premise?

Higher Ed Needs to Go on a Zoom Diet

One author calls for higher ed to go on a “Zoom Diet.” What do you think of the premise? Give it a read and let us know.

The importance of marketing during a crisis

CC Daily published a piece calling on colleges to not give up on marketing during the pandemic. The author notes, “Reducing marketing budgets at this time simply doesn’t make sense. Remember, a student’s decision to enroll can be full of twists and turns, and by skimping on advertising, colleges miss the opportunity to engage prospective students at key touchpoints. This, in turn, affects efforts to obtain leads and support enrollment growth.”

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.