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As the legislature heats up, the governor proposes a bonus for community college personnel

A note from us

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The legislature is off and running — and Gov. Cooper issued a supplemental budget proposal that includes bonuses for community college employees… Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton was honored through a renamed building and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine as he retires… The statewide community college conference began last week… Community college profile pages have now launched on…

Welcome to another week of Awake58 — and thank you for letting us into your inboxes this week. has now officially entered our sixth year of publishing — and it has been an honor to be part of this effort from the beginning. We published our annual report over the weekend; check it out by clicking here. We had an incredible year of audience growth thanks to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who sought answers to pressing education questions, reliable information, and research. We cannot thank all of you enough for participating.

We have a number of items related to community colleges featured in the report — including a series of videos related to the work of community colleges. Check out this video on dual enrollment, this video on continuing education, and then click on the annual report for the remainder of the videos.

As a bonus, if you tweet about our annual report this week and tag @EducationNC then you might have the opportunity to win some special EdNC gear.

The North Carolina General Assembly is now in full swing. My colleague Alex Granados will have a weekly round-up of all of the latest news with his first one publishing last week. Among other news items, Alex spotlighted a supplemental budget request that Gov. Cooper announced last week:

Meanwhile, Cooper also unveiled an emergency supplemental budget plan that includes $695 million in state spending. According to the December General Fund Monthly Budget Report — the most recent available — North Carolina has a little over $4 billion that isn’t reserved for any other expenses. In addition, the state has more than $1 billion in its savings reserve (rainy day fund).

Included in his budget proposal is:

  • $30 million to “enhance community and student access to highspeed internet”

  • $280 million to provide $2,500 bonuses to teachers, principals, and others

  • $77 million to provide a $1,500 bonus to non-certified school personnel

  • $111 million for a $2,000 bonus for NC Community College and UNC System personnel

Check at the end of each week for Alex’s latest.

One final request — do you use Instagram? EdNC is revamping our Instagram account (@EducationNC) and we need your help. What types of content do you want to see us share? What other education accounts do you follow? Please take this brief survey to let us know your thoughts.

Thank you for reading!

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth —

EdNC reads

Lt. Gov. Dalton retires — and Isothermal honors him by naming the Engineering Technology & Workforce Development Center in his honor

My colleague Emily Thomas was at Isothermal Community College on Feb. 2 for a special tribute to Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton. From Emily:

On Tuesday, Feb 2, the Board of Trustees at Isothermal Community College gathered for what appeared to be a normal board meeting. Both Walter Dalton and ICC’s new President, Dr. Margaret Annunziata, were in attendance. After the swearing in of a new board member, a short update on campus happenings, and a brief closed session, the Board of Trustees confessed to the room that they had previously told Walter Dalton a small lie.

There was no leak in the new technology and workforce building where a suspicious covering draped over the front. But there had been a small change to the building. As board members expressed their gratitude for Walter Dalton’s years of service to Isothermal Community College, a rendering of the technology and workforce building was presented to Walter Dalton where it was then revealed that board members had asked the naming committee to rename the building the Walter H. Dalton Engineering Technology & Workforce Development Center. With tears in his eyes, Dalton conveyed how thankful he was for this honor.

But the day of thanks wasn’t over. As the group moved from the boardroom to the open lobby, Dalton was greeted by his family. It was then announced that Gov. Roy Cooper would be presenting Dalton the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award – the state’s highest civilian honor. After the video played Cooper’s remarks, Dalton stood at the podium to again express his gratitude. He said, “It has been great to be here. The support I’ve received from everyone – everyone I’ve worked with. The people here are fantastic because they are doing fantastic things for other people. Improving life through learning, that’s what we do. We make the weak grow strong, and the strong grow great. I think if you look at the definition of our community colleges, that’s what we’ve always done.

As Dalton and his family made their way to the newly named Walter H. Dalton Engineering Technology & Workforce Development Center, faculty and staff lined the parking lot, holding signs of support for the outgoing president. After several moments the bold lettering on the center was revealed.

As one board member expressed earlier in the meeting, “We wanted to make sure that Walter knew how much he was appreciated. And there was an opportunity here on campus – and it’s probably as dominant and as visual as Walter’s presence has been over the last eight years.” While Dalton will be missed, those in the community are excited to see how Dr. Annunziata will build on and continue to do the important work of taking people where they are and carrying them as far as they can go.

Stith opens 2021 North Carolina Community College System Conference

The 2021 N.C. Community College System Conference began last week. Here are a few highlights from my colleague Michael Taffe:

Monday, Feb. 1:

Thomas Stith gave his first keynote address to the conference as system president.

“It is my goal to become a model for our national community college system and educational systems in general, to be a model for diversity and inclusion,” he said. “The strength of North Carolina’s people is our diversity.”

Stith said faculty salary increases of 5% and budget stabilization are his top legislative priorities going into the long session. Read more here.

Tuesday, Feb. 3:

A roundtable was held on “Career and Technical Education Student Outcomes.” Presenters gave a tour of the community college system’s data dashboards.

The dashboards include data on each school’s full-time equivalency (FTE), employee headcount, and dual enrollment, among other things.

Friday, Feb. 5:

In a session on strategies for promoting dual enrollment programs in local high schools, Elvin James of Wake Tech shared that Wake Tech has a program where a faculty member is sent to teach a community college course at a local high school. He also highlighted how high school outreach has shifted online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The list of different activities and resources has definitely diminished, of course because of COVID-19 and how we operate in various capacities now,” he said. “We’re doing various things virtually or are transitioning virtually.”

What we’re watching this week:

Follow Michael’s coverage on Twitter for the following sessions:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m.: Transfer: Effective Practices and Student Experiences in North Carolina
  • Thursday, Feb. 11 at 11 a.m.: The Promise of Free College: Results from Research on Career and College Promise

Around the 58

My colleagues have worked hard over the past several months to bring profiles of all 58 community colleges to life. Each profile includes information on college leadership, enrollment, first-year progression, transfer, and our coverage of the college. Check out the profiles and let us know what you think!

Click here for the college profiles

Around NC

The local government commission has taken over the finances of 10 local governments in its entire history. Four happened in just the last 19 months. What’s happening, and what does it mean for local governments in North Carolina?

My colleague Alex Granados reports: “The most recent data on distressed local governments in North Carolina shows a disturbing trend where counties are showing up as high risk more often than in the past, and the state is having to take a more active role in local government operations.”

News from CCDaily: “Sixteen partnerships from 13 states representing 17 community colleges and 19 universities will participate in the Equity Transfer Initiative (ETI), which aims to increase transfer rates for African-American, Hispanic, adult and first-generation learners.” On the NC front, Forsyth Tech and Winston-Salem State are among the cohort!

This comes on the heels of Forsyth Tech receiving a $5,000,000 federal grant to help lead a consortium of eight community colleges in a project entitled: Aligning the Workforce Education System for Manufacturing. The other colleges are Alamance Community College, Davidson-Davie Community College, Guilford Technical Community College, Montgomery Community College, Randolph Community College, Rockingham Community College, and Surry Community College.

Craven Community College celebrated the opening of their renovated Academic Support Center.

WECT reports that Cape Fear Community College president Jim Morton received a 10% pay raise — and all full-time Cape Fear employees received a 2% raise.

Pamlico Community College announced a new array of workforce development offerings.

According to Gaston College: “The Gaston County Board of Commissioners and Gaston College are working in partnership to transfer $5.3 million in funding to the college for the addition of a new Fiber Innovation Center on the College’s Kimbrell Campus in Belmont.”

As the vaccinations against COVID-19 continue to roll out across the state, various colleges are taking part in the effort, including Caldwell Community College, Mitchell Community College, and Surry Community College. Send me a note if your college is playing an active role!

Looking ahead, we encourage you to check out the upcoming ReCONNECT NC Forum from our friends at the Institute for Emerging Issues. You may register here! IEI provides the following context: “Over four days, February 15-18, 2021, IEI is hosting a series of virtual meetings built from the key discoveries we made during the ReCONNECT NC program. Join David Brooks and many other speakers as we explore solutions for reconnecting and moving into a more vibrant future for NC.”

Registration is also now open for the NC Rural Center’s Rural Summit. The Summit will be held March 15-17. For more information, click here.

Other higher education reads

WEBINAR | The Hybrid Campus: A Postpandemic Vision of Higher Education

Strada is hosting a webinar looking at whether the issues that have emerged from COVID-19 might lead to a different future. They raise the following questions on the registration page: “The disruption COVID-19 brought to higher education — with its traditional campuses, residential housing, and face-to-face classes — has been staggering. Yet could this chaotic turn of events lead to a long-term upside? Is a radical reimagining on the horizon for how colleges and universities operate?”

State affordability profiles released

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) released state affordability profiles for higher education across their region. The North Carolina profile is located here.

How one HBCU helps students succeed

Xavier University of Louisiana is in the spotlight from Strada Education this week. As they explain: “So how does Xavier consistently produce more Black students who become medical doctors than any other institution in the country? How did XULA come to rank among Harvard economist Raj Chetty’s top 10 universities for improving the economic mobility of poor students after graduation? And what can mainstream institutions learn from XULA’s success?”

Check out the five strategies XULA has implemented in the piece.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.