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Why is enrollment down at community colleges across the state?

A note from us

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

Roanoke-Chowan has a new president… The State Board met last week and approved a request around budget stabilization funds… We just published a deep dive on enrollment trends and challenges… Teacher prep programs — including increased collaboration between universities, schools districts, and colleges — are in the news this week… We caught up with myFutureNC and ncIMPACT to learn more about their local collaboratives in a recent podcast…

The State Board of Community Colleges met last week and formally approved Dr. Murray Jean Williams as Roanoke-Chowan Community College’s next president. Dr. Williams was the vice president of adult education and academic support at Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin, Georgia.

The board also approved a 2021 budget provision request that asks that any budget stabilization funds approved by the General Assembly be eligible for expenditure through June of 2023.

We know the pandemic has generated an array of challenges for colleges — but the most surprising given the economic downturn has been the decline in enrollment. My colleagues Emily Thomas and Michael Taffe explore the overall trends across the state, some of the persistent challenges colleges have worked through, and a few experiments colleges have tried to arrest the decline in a significant piece out today.

One of the questions raised by their reporting is how enrollment declines might impact the statewide attainment goal. Last week, we sat down with Anita Brown-Graham of ncIMPACT and Cecilia Holden of myFutureNC to discuss a new pilot project to support 10 localized efforts that will tackle attainment in their local community. Give the podcast a listen to learn more about the program and how your community can apply.

I had dinner with a number of folks last week in the western part of the state — including Haywood Community College president Shelley White. Alli Lindenberg on our team — who happens to be our talented producer for the Awake58 podcast — interviewed White for our latest podcast. White became president on January 1, 2020 and quickly stepped into a pandemic that had no playbook for a new president. In the podcast, she explains how she handled the last year. Give it a listen by clicking here!

Our legislative wrap-up has some news community college personnel across the state will be interested in: “Bills filed in the House and Senate would appropriate $84 million to provide a 7% increase for community college personnel salaries. As recently as last month, Community College System President Thomas Stith was in the General Assembly asking for at least a 5% increase in personnel salaries. So far, this bill has not been heard in a committee.”

And a special request for our readers from Alli: Are you subscribed to our Awake58 podcast? We’re interviewing community college leaders, faculty, and students and lifting up their stories. You can find the show on AppleSpotifyAnchor and anywhere else podcasts are available. Make sure to subscribe today to join us! If you subscribe on Apple, we would appreciate your rating and review.

We also would love your suggestions on who else we should feature in upcoming episodes! Let me know your thoughts on future guests by replying to this email or by texting COLLEGE to 73224.

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth —

EdNC reads

State Board of Community Colleges | Budget requests, Roanoke-Chowan president approved, and more

The State Board met last week. As noted above, Dr. Murray Jean Williams was named president of Roanoke-Chowan Community College. In addition, the State Board approved a 2021 Budget Provision Request. Michael Taffe reports on the specifics of the request:

The Board approved a 2021 Budget Provision Request that included two action items. One of the system’s top legislative priorities is a request for $61 million in non-recurring funding to help stabilize colleges’ budgets due to pandemic-related enrollment losses this year. The system is now requesting that these budget stabilization funds, if appropriated by the legislature, remain available through June 2023.

“This is very in line with what was done with the hurricane funds for the disaster funds there to provide a little more flexibility to the fact that the pandemic uncertainty is still kind of out there,” said Alex Fagg, director of government relations for the system office.

Second, the system requests that the 2020-21 academic year — referred to by Board members as “the COVID year”  — be excluded from the two-year budget calculation for colleges who experienced enrollment decline.

“The second one is to essentially skip the COVID year, if there was a decline at the college enrollment, or a college FTE, for the two-year calculation so that college would use the 19-20 and 21-22 to develop that two-year FTE calculation,” he said.

For more from the State Board — including the Board taking up “exempt” status for communications staff and Central Piedmont Community College president Kandi Deitemeyer’s report from the Presidents’ Association — click below.

Click here for more

Enrollment is down at many community colleges across the state. Here's why.

It is likely not news to you all that community colleges across the state are facing enrollment declines. After all, enrollment has seemed to be one of the dominant conversations on campuses across the country throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. In a piece that just published, Emily Thomas and Michael Taffe explore the trends around enrollment declines this year.

Only four colleges out of the 58 did not have enrollment declines between fall 2019 and fall 2020. How does this play out on the ground for each college? And who was impacted? Taffe and Thomas explore in their piece:

Pre-pandemic, food insecurities were as high as 49% at two-year institutions, compared to 40% at four-year institutions, according to a 2019 report. And rates of housing insecurities among students ranged from 41%-59% at two-year schools, compared to 25%-47% of students at four-year schools. Also pre-pandemic, many students didn’t have internet at home and relied on school facilities to complete coursework.

The pandemic exacerbated these challenges for community college students. Students lost internet access, lost jobs, and had to take care of ailing family members or children now trying to do school at home. For those hit the hardest, many had to make the difficult decision to reduce course loads or press pause on their academic careers.

“Students are balancing teaching at home, having to change hours because of either being laid off or their job responsibilities changed. There are just so many variables in their life that changed, and they couldn’t manage school anymore,” said Hurst.

They go on to explore enrollment declines through the prism of broadband access, the challenges of teaching some courses online, the impact of virtual education on dual enrollment, and more.

Give the article a read by clicking below. We also would love to hear more from you about the impacts of enrollment on your campus – including your suggestions for how to bolster enrollment for next fall. Please email us your thoughts!

Click here for the full story

LISTEN | myFutureNC and ncIMPACT leaders discuss the need for local attainment efforts and a pilot effort to support collaboratives

On last week’s edition of the Awake58 podcast, we were joined by Cecilia Holden, CEO and president of myFutureNC, and Anita Brown-Graham, director of the ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government.

Their two organizations, with support from the John M Belk Endowment, recently announced a pilot program to support 10 community-centered collaboratives across the state to increase attainment of high-quality degrees and credentials among local residents.

Brown-Graham described the importance of such local initiatives: “How are communities going to play their part in helping the state reach this goal? Well, one thing we know, it’s not going to be just up to our educational institutions. Everyone who understands anything about how people go into careers recognizes that getting those credentials and getting connected to work takes a village.”

Give the podcast a listen by clicking here to better understand the kind of cooperatives they are seeking to identify and support!

Listen | ‘One day at a time’ is how this community college president led her campus through its most unprecedented year yet

Shelley White has served as president of Haywood Community College since January 1, 2020. As you all well know, COVID-19 hit just a few months later. My colleague Alli happened to be at Haywood the week before it felt like the entire world shut down last March. She returned to Haywood recently to understand how White and her team navigated COVID-19, the challenges of broadband access and availability, and what White hopes the college will learn from the pandemic. Click here to give the podcast a listen.

SURVEY | wants to hear from you

This has been a remarkable year. We have tried our best to capture the bright spots, challenges, frustrations, and opportunities alike. We now want to know how the last year has gone for you, your students and colleagues, your local college, and our state. What’s gone well? What hasn’t worked? What lessons are you taking forward as we find our new normal?

Please take our survey by clicking here. It won’t take more than a few minutes of your time — and a few participants will be selected at random to receive a $25 gift card. 

Around NC

The Hunt Institute released a brief on food insecurity among postsecondary students with an emphasis on North Carolina. Give it a read by clicking here.

Bladen County’s Board of Education approved a calendar for the 2021-2022 school year that includes an earlier start for Bladen Early College High School.

Cape Fear Community College and Wilmington’s city government just announced a partnership to offer additional training programs with a focus on lead-based safety training.

Craven Community College has introduced a new law enforcement training building that offers a range of virtual training options — and according to local media the training equipment is available for use statewide.

The Carteret Community College Board of Trustees adopted a 2021-22 county budget request that includes support for both building renovations and additional personnel. We are curious about the county-by-county budgeting requests across the state, so we’d love to hear from you. What does county support look like for your school? How do you feel about your level of community support? Shoot me an email and let me know.

Haywood Community College just broke ground on a new $7.8 million dollar building recently. According to the Mountaineer: “The project will allow HCC to expand student enrollment in health-related fields, including nursing, and improve hands-on training with new, state-of-the-art equipment and technology.”

Teacher prep programs remain in the news. Richmond Community College and UNC Pembroke announced a new partnership that includes four new courses at Richmond CC and dual enrollment. The McDowell News also recently published a spotlight on the partnership between McDowell County Schools and McDowell Community College on teacher prep.

Randolph Community College’s work to hire success coaches was featured by FOX8 last week. They instituted two success coaches as part of a federal study, tracked data that showed an increase in retention of five percentage points, and now plan to hire an additional coach.

Other higher education reads

STUDY | Strengthening rural colleges: Innovations and opportunities

The Association of Community College Trustees has a report out now looking at how to strengthen rural community colleges nationally. The report evaluates challenges including broadband access and availability, funding, and more. The researchers interacted with several North Carolina institutions as well as colleges in other states. It is worth your time.

LISTEN | How to make online ed work for students

Strada Education’s Lessons Learned podcast features Scott Pulsipher, president of Western Governors University, sharing WGU’s lessons for other higher education institutions who are working to adapt to online learning environments. His advice includes placing students at the center of the student experience, measuring outcomes instead of inputs, and more.

LISTEN | Lessons from YearUp

Gerald Chertavian, the founder and CEO of YearUp, shares his views and experience for higher education leaders through the lens of his YearUp experience. We’ve covered YearUp previously if you are interested in learning more about their work to support opportunity youth — a term applied to people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.