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"Our community in particular needs us to be whole." Here's how one college president thinks about budget stabilization

A note from us

Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58! If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter.

Piedmont Community College president Pamela Senegal joined us for the latest Awake58 podcast… We spotlight Surry-Yadkin Works… The State Board of Community Colleges meets this week… The dual enrollment student population has declined nationally… A new poll reveals nearly half of parents don’t want their kids to go to a four-year college…

The State Board of Community Colleges will meet on Thursday and Friday of this week. The agenda may be found by clicking here. The full board package may be found by clicking here. My colleague Emily Thomas will be covering the State Board meeting— and you will find her coverage in next week’s Awake58.

Piedmont Community College president Pamela Senegal joined us on the most recent Awake58 podcast. She made an impassioned plea for budget stabilization, telling us, “So that as the economy does start to recover, as parents are able to send their children back to public schools, and as they don’t have to serve as their homeschool teachers, folks are going to come back to us. It’s just going to be a matter of timing. And so we’ve got to be prepared to do that, you know, and that’s why, with our legislative agenda this year, it’s never been more critical that our legislative priorities receive the funding that we’re requesting.”

We also just published a spotlight on Surry-Yadkin Works. Surry-Yadkin Works is a collaborative internship program spanning business, government, and education systems across Surry and Yadkin counties. Program director Crystal Folger-Hawks explained the program’s goal of connecting students to career opportunities in the area: “You drive by them all the time. These big buildings – lots of cars parked out front. And you may know someone’s cousin who works there, but you don’t really know what that company does.”

Are you interested in diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields? On Tuesday, April 20th from 5 – 6 p.m. EST, join EducationNC for a virtual panel discussion on the topic of how education and industry can improve the pathways of opportunity for women and persons of color into STEM fields, especially the technology sector. Click here to register.

I will be out next week celebrating my birthday, traveling the state with friends, and reflecting on the past year. I am grateful to all of you for reading Awake58 as always.

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth –

PS — My colleague Rupen Fofaria’s special series on the Winton Triangle continues to roll out with a look at C.S. Brown —the first high school for African Americans in North Carolina. Give it a read by clicking here!

EdNC reads

Listen | Pamela Senegal of Piedmont Community College: ‘Our community in particular needs us to be whole’

Pamela Senegal, who has served as president of Piedmont Community College since 2017, joined us on the Awake58 podcast to discuss the present and future of her college.

Senegal is concerned about the impact of enrollment declines and budget stabilization on Piedmont: “If our budget is given to us based on the current funding formula that’s in place, that puts us in jeopardy of potentially losing about $1.3 million. And, you know, when 85% of my budget is tied up in personnel costs, that has a huge impact.”

And it isn’t just the college that needs to see budget stabilization according to Senegal. She told us, “Our community in particular needs us to be whole.”

Before she was named Piedmont CC’s first female president, Senegal was the vice president of economic and community development at Central Carolina Community College. We discussed many issues through her economic development prism on the podcast — including a rule change proposed by the nursing board, waived for 2021, that would boost the educational requirement for nursing faculty. It would have a marked impact on Senegal’s institution, she told us.

Click here to listen

‘Five great educational systems working together to benefit our students and our economy’

Surry-Yadkin Works is a collaborative internship program that is powered by a partnership between four K-12 districts, Surry Community College, local businesses, and local government. Emily Thomas describes how it works in her piece:

Before identifying students’ skills and talents, Folger-Hawks and others meet with businesses to discuss their current employee needs. From there, they begin identifying students with specific education or skill sets and recruiting them.

The students are recruited by the program, but the employers who partner with Surry-Yadkin Works make the final decision on the student(s) they will hire. Once the student is hired, they receive soft skills training from Surry Community College, including training on time management, employer expectations, and more.

David Shockley, president of Surry Community College, told Emily how the program can be replicated:

The Surry-Yadkin Works program is very easy to replicate if everyone is willing to work together for the benefit of the community. The community college, public schools, county commissioners, businesses and industries, and most importantly, the students, must all be willing to become actively engaged in the process of creating career opportunities for the next generation. Each entity must be willing to sacrifice so the entire community can successfully create career opportunities and economic growth for everyone. 

For more details on Surry-Yadkin Works — including hearing from students who have participated in the program — click below.

Click here for the story

Around NC

NC Community College system president Thomas Stith appeared on the Carolina Business Review. Give the interview a watch by clicking here.

The Triangle Business Journal has a piece out now on what they refer to as a “robust jobs pipeline” for 2021. We’re curious to know what trends you are seeing in your region — and the role you see for your local college in supporting the economic recovery efforts as the pandemic recedes.

The Belk Center at NC State has released research on community college and university partnerships that led to “higher-than-expected bachelor’s degree attainment rates given their student, institutional, and environmental characteristics.” The accompanying brief looks at the how and why of three partnerships who generated higher-than-expected attainment rates.

Higher Ed Works published this video of UNC system president Peter Hans making the case for increasing the number of out-of-state students the five UNC system HBCUs could enroll. Hans declared, “I think they will enhance those institutions and help secure their financial futures in many ways. So this is a win-win-win situation for the institutions, the students and the state overall.”

Blue Ridge Community College announced four new short-term courses focused on advanced manufacturing in order to meet industry need and demand.

Cleveland Community College just broke ground on a new advanced manufacturing center. According to WRAL TechWire, “The new center will provide training programs in mechanical drafting, electronics engineering technology, automation engineering technology, industrial systems technology, and computer integrated machining.”

Central Piedmont Community College and Johnson C. Smith University announced a new direct admission program called JCSU Connect. According to WBTV, “During the first two years of study, students in the JCSU Connect Program will take classes at Central Piedmont and engage in intentional career and academic workshops at JCSU. During the third-year, students will enroll at JCSU and be placed in an on-campus paid internship (via federal work study) at JCSU that correlates with their field of study. During the final year of study, participants will complete their academic program at JCSU and engage in experiential learning, including internships and undergraduate research.”

Cape Fear Community College announced their intent to expand in-person instruction in the fall of 2021.

McDowell Technical Community College received an $800,000 grant from Golden LEAF to launch a new workforce education center in the town of Old Fort.

Golden LEAF also invested $1.5 million dollars in Western Piedmont Community College’s planned Construction Trades Solution Center. According to the Morganton News Herald, “The new center will house programs that offer degrees and certificate training programs in carpentry, masonry, electrical technologies, HVAC, plumbing and green construction principles.”

Other higher education reads

Why expanded student supports can improve community college outcomes and boost skill attainment

Brookings shared a piece looking at the impact of expanded student supports on outcomes and skill attainment for community college students. The authors note:

Expanded student supports might be the key to improving student outcomes at community colleges. Many community colleges are resource-constrained and unable to offer comprehensive student supports. Community colleges on average spend less per pupil than do four-year public universities. There is now a growing body of evidence showing that comprehensive student support programs lead to increased persistence and completion among low-income students at community colleges.

The piece goes on to examine five different comprehensive student service programs at colleges across the country.

Pandemic reduces number of high school students taking dual enrollment courses

Hechinger Report has an analysis of the drop in dual enrollment students across the country. They highlight the following national data: “As colleges reconvened for their first full semester during the pandemic in the fall, undergraduate enrollment among students under 18 — a proxy for college in high school — was essentially flat, after a big increase the year before. By the spring, enrollment for that age group had declined by nearly 3 percent.”

Poll: Nearly half of parents don’t want their kids to go straight to a four-year college

A new Gallup survey worth noting is featured in Hechinger Report this week. The survey “found that 46 percent of parents said they would prefer not to send their children to a four-year college after high school, even if there were no obstacles, financial or otherwise.”

Something worth noting for community college leaders: When you analyze where those 46% of parents want their kids to go, “Only 8 percent of parents said they would prefer a two-year community college, where more than a third of U.S. college students are enrolled and which also offer many vocational degrees and programs.”

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.