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'It's a called a community college for a reason'

A note from us

Hello, Nation here. If you missed last week’s Awake58 edition that focused on dual enrollment, you can read it by clicking here.

The joint education appropriations committee heard a presentation on the community college landscape last week…  The consensus revenue forecast projects an extra $3.25 billion in state revenue… The State Board of Community Colleges met last week… Gov. Roy Cooper announced a $7.7 million investment in mental health…

The legislature is in full-swing — and we know more about the budget situation now. The consensus revenue forecast for the state was released on Wednesday — and the forecast projected an extra $3.25 billion in state revenues for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23. You can read Alex’s recap here.

The joint education appropriations committee also received an update on the community college landscape last week. You can find the presentation here. They also distributed the budgeted FTE list for the system’s colleges. You can find the document here. We also captured some of the commentary from the legislators:

Sen. Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck, attributed the decline in enrollment to the relative health of the economy. He said that enrollment is already starting to come back up, in part because of the need to serve businesses moving to North Carolina. And then he gave an impassioned plea for the importance of community colleges.

“It’s called a community college for a reason, because it’s in your community,” he said. “If we start taking away community colleges, we are shooting ourselves in the foot. These folks provide an unimaginable resource for especially rural areas that don’t have the opportunity to be 10 minutes from the university.”

You can track all of the legislative action here, to be updated weekly.

The State Board of Community Colleges met last week. They approved $2 million in support of truck-driving programs across 14 community colleges, with funding awarded to nine applicants, including partnering colleges. The Board also reviewed the system’s legislative agenda and funding request, and received an update on the search for the next system president. Our full recap is available now.

We also attended the Institute for Emerging Issues forum last week. Topics explored included opportunity youth, engaging justice-involved individuals, connecting older adults to the workforce, and Lenoir Community College’s Centro Educativo Latino.

Our team will be at the North Carolina General Assembly all week. If you want daily updates, I would encourage you to subscribe to the EdDaily. I will also be visiting several colleges this week. You can follow along on Twitter.

I’ll see you out on the road,


Head of Growth –

EdNC reads

‘Workforce is the name of the game,’ State Board of Community Colleges chair says

At the State Board of Community College meeting last week, the Board approved $2 million in support of nine community college truck driving programs. Including partnering colleges, the funds impacted 14 colleges. This comes on the heels of the Board approving $5 million in support of high-cost workforce programs at their January meeting.

“Workforce is the name of the game,” said Chair Burr Sullivan during the meeting. “We’ve been doing it a long time, but the expectations coming our way from all over the state have just been increasing. We just have to deliver.”

Other key updates included a review of the legislative agenda. Cleveland Community College President Jason Hurst pointed to all of the recent economic development announcements while making the case for the system’s request:

“We’re getting dangerously close to over-promising and under-delivering,” said Hurst, who also chairs the legislative committee of the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents (NCACCP). “If we do not beef up our community colleges with the skills that we can provide, we’re going to be bringing companies here that we cannot provide a skilled workforce for.”

The Board approved several personnel decisions for system staff, received an update on the Wilson Community College presidential search, and more.

They also received an update on the search for the next system president:

The presidential search committee provided a brief update on Friday, after formally beginning candidate sourcing last month. At that time, co-chair Dr. Shirley Carraway said the committee expected three to five weeks of candidate sourcing.

“We have been in kind of the quiet phase for the search, and that is the sourcing phase,” she said. “However, that is about to end.”

The search committee will start vetting candidates at their March 1 meeting, Carraway said. That meeting will include selecting candidates for face-to-face interviews, when possible. The committee anticipates eight to 12 applicants to consider, from in- and out-of-state.

Carraway said committee members should have applicant information the week before their next meeting.

For Hannah’s full recap, click here.

Institute for Emerging Issues forum talks solving North Carolina’s workforce supply issue

The Institute for Emerging Issues annual forum was held last week with a particular focus on the talent pipeline. It was new IEI Executive Director Sarah Langer Hall’s first forum at the helm — and it also marked the return to an in-person forum for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Roy Cooper addressed attendees on the importance of workforce development:

“As I recruit companies or as I check with them as to how they’re doing in North Carolina, the three main concerns are workforce, workforce, and workforce,” he said…

“And our real strength, our communities, and colleges and universities – let’s remember that they are strong because of the foresight of so many people in this room and people who have come before us for decades,” he said, also praising the state’s four public HBCUs. “We have the best community college system in the country. We need to make sure we keep it that way, investing in our instructors and investing in students and making sure that they can get an education.”

Initiatives impacting the entire community college landscape were discussed, including engaging opportunity youth.

Lenoir Community College was also in the spotlight:

Lenoir Community College’s Centro Educativo Latino is a program that offers around 70 Spanish-language workforce courses. In the last two years, the center has served close to 2,000 Hispanic students. About 14% of Lenoir Community College students are Hispanic.

Because the courses are offered entirely in Spanish, the college draws a lot of students from counties all across the state – 29 so far.

And to mitigate some of those travel barriers, the college has an informal understanding with a nearby hotel who offers a discounted rate to students traveling for weekend courses.

Panelist Roman Pacheco Avila, who works as an HVAC and electrical technician for Sears, said the program gave him opportunities for a better job for him and his family.

“I will try to express what I feel to be part of Lenoir Community College,” said Avila. “They gave me a lot of chances and gave me more opened doors to do what I do today.”

Shoutout to my colleague Hannah McClellan for serving as a moderator for that portion of the forum!

You can find the remainder of our recap here.

State forecasts $3.25 billion surplus — and more.

As mentioned above, the consensus revenue forecast for the state was released on Wednesday — and the forecast projected an extra $3.25 billion in state revenues for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-23:

The consensus revenue forecast credits a variety of factors for creating the surplus. These include:

  • “Smaller-than-expected decline in individual income tax collections”
  • “Persistently high corporate profits”
  • “Resilient consumer spending”
  • “Higher-than-expected investment returns on the General Fund balance”

The consensus revenue forecast is created by the Office of State Budget and Management in conjunction with the General Assembly’s fiscal research division.

Alex’s full write-up on the consensus forecast has now published.

Relatedly, the legislature is now in full-swing. Mebane’s guide on how to be an effective advocate for the issues you care about has been revised for the upcoming session.

The joint education appropriations committee also met last week.

Sen. Dean Proctor, R-Caldwell, weighed in after seeing the data on enrollment declines: “I don’t think we can continue to have the decline of enrollment and justify all the campuses and expenses that we have. It’s a difficult subject. It’s not a welcome subject, but at some point, that needs to be done.”

Sen. Bobby Hanig, R-Bertie, pointed out the role of community colleges as a cornerstone for rural communities — and he attributed some of the decline of enrollment to “relatively low” faculty pay:

“We see such a downtick or such a disparity between a community college professor versus a university professor, oftentimes we can’t fill the position, so therefore we can’t offer the class. So that also results in hurting the community colleges,” he said.

He then mentioned that faculty pay at community colleges has been increased by lawmakers recently and that the General Assembly must continue to keep increasing that funding.

The full presentation for the legislature is here.

For our recap of the legislative week, click here. Bookmark that page as it will be updated weekly.

Around NC

From our own Liz Bell: “Gov. Roy Cooper announced this week a $7.7 million investment to launch new mental health programs and sustain existing ones like Mental Health First Aid. These funds come from the federal Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools program and have since reverted to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund, a press release says. The money will fund suicide prevention training for faculty and staff across community colleges, UNC system schools, and independent colleges and universities, as well as a mental health hotline and resiliency program at UNC system schools.”

Saint Augustine University President Christine Johnson McPhail made history as the first sitting Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) president selected to preach for the Washington Cathedral’s fourth annual Holy Eucharist & Annual HBCU Welcome Sunday.

The week after the announcement that lawmakers had formed a bipartisan historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) Caucus, HBCU students visited the legislature to advocate for their schools. You can find our recap here.

According to a press release last week: “Western Governors University has built a special, accelerated path for students ages 14-18 with a high school diploma or equivalent.” More information on the program can be found here.

LatinxEd released their SomosNC Report last week. You can read our recap of the report here.

According to a release from Cape Fear Community College, their Small Business Center will hold its first Small Business Summit on May 20. All small business owners and entrepreneurs in New Hanover and Pender Counties are invited. You may RSVP here.

Guilford Tech announced a new vice president: “Claire Ricci, Guilford Technical Community College’s dean of adult education the past five years, has been elevated to associate vice president of workforce and continuing education by the college.”

Nash Community College is holding what they bill as a special event unveiling a new strategy for high school students on March 10. You can find their preview here.

Piedmont Community College concluded its inaugural cohort of a new leadership development program for the college.

Sandhills Community College continues its search for a next president.

Robeson Community College hosted a fire and rescue conference last week. They saw a significant uptick in attendance, according to a release from the college.

Richmond Community College will be offering a Surgical Technology program this fall in response “to the expressed need for more surgical technicians by local hospitals,” according to a release from the college.

According to the NC Tribune: “Kim Sepich is the new vice president of learning, student engagement and success at Vance-Granville Community College. She’s moving over from N.C. State University, where she was director of college services for the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research.” You can find the college’s release here.

Wilson Community College is holding candidate forums this week for the four finalists for its next college president. The finalists are Dr. Camille Reese, Dr. Jami Woods, Dr. James W. Kelley, and Dr. William C. Cathcart.

Other higher education reads

Some people going into the trades wonder why their classmates stick with college

The Hechinger Report published a good look at the state of play in the industrial trades last week. The net-net is these industries need workers, and community colleges are poised to help build the pipeline, but more students would need to enroll to do so.

One policy solution spotlighted was Pell Grant expansion for short-term workforce. The report also raised another issue:

Money isn’t the only issue, advocates for career and technical education say. An even bigger challenge is convincing parents that it leads to good jobs.

“They remember ‘voc-ed’ from when they were in high school, which is not necessarily what they aspire to for their own kids,” Kreamer said. Added Kairie Pierce, apprenticeship and college director for the Washington State Labor Council of the AFL-CIO: “It sort of has this connotation of being a dirty job. ‘It’s hard work — I want something better for my son or daughter.’”

Read the full report here.

Another Look at ‘Brain Gain’ in Rural Minnesota

This article from the Daily Yonder explores what happens when a rural community begins to gain population — particularly among 30-49 year olds. The author spotlights the work of one local community college to meet the needs of a growing and evolving population:

Getting enough teachers to meet demand is a constant challenge, particularly because qualified instructors can typically make much more working directly in their industry. The college’s leadership instructor is already booked for the entire year.

Increasingly, the college has asked local employers to free up some of their employees’ time to teach — working out a schedule that works for both is mutually beneficial.

“If we take a qualified instructor that could be working for them, that leaves a hole for the employer. But if we don’t train students, there’s an even bigger hole,” Brimhall says.

Other strategies for the college include flexible scheduling, additional remote instruction, and more. Read all about it here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.