Skip to content

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

Community colleges ‘have weathered this storm.’

A note from us

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

An in-state tuition pilot for out-of-state students passed the NC House last week… Two new podcasts debut this week — one with David Shockley and the other with Janet Spriggs… Broadband assistance is a topic of national debate and highlights several related items of importance… Central Carolina is providing personalized and holistic supports for students…

Last week, my colleague Emily Thomas and I spent several days in northeastern North Carolina visiting Elizabeth City State University, College of the Albemarle, and Martin Community College. For some highlights from our visit, check out my Twitter thread documenting some of the sights and sounds from the two community colleges.

Some common themes from the visit included broadband access and affordability, customizing offerings to meet regional needs, ongoing challenges of the pandemic, and the work ahead for each institution as they try to support economic recovery efforts in their region. Emily is working on a piece regarding our Elizabeth City visit that will be released later this week, and I will have an article outlining takeaways from each of the three college visits soon.

We’ve released two new podcasts in recent weeks.

My conversation with Forsyth Tech president Janet Spriggs focused on her college’s work to restructure their marketing and community engagement efforts, their work around racial equity, two new regional collaborative efforts, and her views on needed supports for short-term workforce development students.

We caught up with Surry Community College president David Shockley as well. Shockley spoke about the role of community colleges, particularly their future in rural North Carolina, and the very real needs that his college faces as the General Assembly session unfolds.

My colleague Alex Granados publishes a legislative roundup each week. Last week, his roundup included a section from community college reporter Michael Taffe on a bill to pilot in-state tuition at Tri-County Community College for students from four Georgia counties that passed the House. Michael reports:

The pilot program is set to end during the 2024-25 academic year and includes provisions to report back to General Assembly staff in order to evaluate its effectiveness. Bill sponsor Rep. Karl Gillespie, R-Cherokee, said similar programs have potential at other community colleges depending on the results of the pilot at Tri-County.

“We looked at all of the potential neighboring community colleges where this same top program could be applied,” he said. “To the best of our findings, there’s a total — including Tri-County — of 19 community colleges that could qualify for this.”

For more of their reporting, check out the full roundup here.

I will be on the road much of the next week visiting A-B Tech to work on a series looking at one college’s experience through a year of COVID-19. If you are part of the A-B Tech team, shoot me a note. I would be delighted to hear your ideas for what I should try to see during my time in Asheville and the surrounding area.

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth,

EdNC reads

Listen | Community colleges ‘have weathered this storm.’ Forsyth Tech president Janet Spriggs joins the Awake58 podcast.

We caught up with Forsyth Tech president Janet Spriggs recently. Spriggs has been president of Forsyth Tech since January 2019. During her tenure, the college has focused on bolstering enrollment through novel attempts at outreach, building a culture rooted in equity, and collaborating with other postsecondary institutions throughout the region.

During our conversation we discussed the debate around Pell Grant expansion to include short-term workforce development students:

“If I’ve got a really low-income student who has a family to support, and they can’t afford to come to class right now, and they were working full time, and they can’t take a curriculum program, they might be able to take a short-term class, which will get them a better-paying job and perhaps even go to work for a company that will pay the tuition for them, if they want to go into another degree program,” Spriggs said. “So it’s critically important for helping us help particularly the most vulnerable and … the students with the lowest incomes really be able to get the more immediate training that they need to get to work faster. And then we can work with them on their lifelong educational plan … and the next step of their educational journey. But the first thing is being able to help them take care of themselves and their families.”

Spriggs went on to discuss a range of collaboratives, including a federally-funded project around digital badging and credentials as well as a new equity-focused transfer initiative in partnership with Winston-Salem State University.

Click here to listen

Listen | ‘I think you can get up and you can make good things happen.’ — David Shockley of Surry Community College

Surry Community College president David Shockley and I held a wide-ranging conversation recently for the Awake58 podcast. Shockley spoke of the hardships of the past year, the challenges that could be ahead for community colleges across the state, and more.

Give the podcast a listen, particularly Shockley’s spotlight of the Surry-Yadkin Works internship program the college recently helped launch:

“These are real positions. They’re not just job shadowing. They go, and they actually perform duties. That’s the beautiful part of this — and they’re applying the theoretical that they learned in the classroom to real world … while getting credit through the dual enrollment programs, through CCP, through all those programs… It’s one of the most amazing things that I have seen, and not just because of the cooperative effort, but what an amazing opportunity for a young student to be able to come out of public schools in a community college upon graduation with a credential and already job experience.”

Give the podcast a listen by clicking here.

Podcasts from around the 58

My colleague Alli Lindenberg spotlights podcasts to listen to this week:

Beyond the Classroom – Meeting the Needs with Terry Phillips

In this episode, host Kaidyn Radford talks to Terry Phillips, the program coordinator for Legacy, a mentorship program for men of color at Davidson-Davie Community College. Phillips discusses his own journey as a Black man navigating the educational system and how that has equipped him to help the men in his program. He also offers advice for community colleges looking to start a similar program on their campus.

The Key – Ep. 39: Introducing “Student Voice”

This episode explores Inside Higher Ed’s news hub featuring student polling data, news, and analysis to ensure that the perspective of college students is heard on the issues that matter in higher education.

How Central Carolina is working to provide holistic, personalized education

Alli and I visited Central Carolina Community College recently. Alli tells the story of our visit through the prism of the personalized, holistic approach the college has embraced for student support services. In addition, she spotlights the work of the college to embrace their entire service area through customized offerings in each of the three counties to meet their unique needs.

As a bonus, if you click through to read the story you will see an adorable beagle waking up from surgery as part of Alli’s spotlight of their program offerings. You will also meet Central Carolina student Caighla Outlaw. Outlaw shared her story with Alli — including her motivation for driving up from the Outer Banks each week to participate in the vet tech program.

Around NC

myFutureNC and the ncIMPACT Initiative have partnered to launch a two-year pilot to support 10 local collaboratives focused on attainment. For more information — including their FAQ — check out their website as well as a webinar on March 11. To apply, click here.

The inaugural First-Generation Symposium will be held virtually this week on March 11. The symposium is a joint effort between the Center for First-Generation Student Success, NASPA, and the system office. Click here for more information and to register.

Cape Fear Community College president Jim Morton has penned an op-ed promoting the FAFSA for parents in his region.

Carteret Community College discussed the budget and personnel cuts they will face if budget stabilization does not happen during this session of the General Assembly.

Gaston College’s trucking program is spotlighted for their work to get a series of family members on the road. 🚒

As COVID-19 case counts decline — and vaccination rates go up — Guilford Tech announced they plan to ramp up their in-person offerings later in March.

The National Association for College Admission Counseling has a call out for counselors who wish to share their stories of supporting families through their decision making, college investments in diversity, and more. Spread the word!

Roanoke-Chowan Community College’s Board of Trustees selected a president — and they have sent the name to the State Board for approval at the next meeting. Jeri Pierce, Chair of the Roanoke-Chowan CC Trustees noted, “We were ready to announce our decision, but were advised that wasn’t possible at this particular time due to the [state board’s] policy. We knew that the state board makes the final decision on the candidate we recommend for the position, but we were unaware that we [were] prevented from publicly announcing that decision prior to the state board conducting their meeting.”

St. Augustine’s University selected Christine Johnson McPhail as their new president. McPhail is the widow of St. Augustine’s president Irving Pressley McPhail who died of COVID-19 complications in October.

Other higher education reads

How a decline in community college students is a big problem for the economy

The Washington Post is out with a piece exploring the connection between the enrollment decline for community colleges across the country and the challenges it might present to the economy. Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, connected the dots to costs for consumers: “Where this is going to become most evident is in areas like construction, where you see increases in construction costs because of a labor shortage, and in health care, where the average person is going to begin to feel it.”

Community colleges at a crossroads: Enrollment is plummeting, but political clout is growing

The Post also takes a look at enrollment decline through the prism of the national political landscape. This piece argues national clout has grown for community colleges at the very moment that they need increased federal support. Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, spoke with the reporter and shared the following takeaway: “The question, he said, is what steps the government should take. Raise Pell grants for students in financial need? Enact debt relief for those with student loans? Expand tuition subsidies for ‘free college?'”

Washington Watch: Broadband assistance is on the way

While I was in northeastern North Carolina last week, broadband access was a frequent topic of discussion at each visit. has a primer out exploring federal action and assistance that is now coming down the road.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.