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What did the survey about the next system president tell us?

A note from us

Hello, Nation here. If you missed last week’s Awake58, you can read it by clicking here.

National search firm Buffkin/Baker was selected to help recruit the next system president… Catawba Valley Community College announced a reduction in force last week… We spotlight Sampson and South Piedmont Community colleges’ work and economic impact… The State Board of Community Colleges will meet this week…

Happy Tuesday — and thank you for reading Awake58 again this week.

We completed our Impact58 tour this week with a visit to Cleveland Community College. We’re grateful to all 58 of our community colleges for spending time with us. The articles documenting our visits can be found here.

We’ve discussed national and statewide higher education enrollment declines at length in recent years. Numerous reasons are cited for the decline, including the disruptions from COVID-19, increasing rates of apathy and disconnection among 16-24 year olds, declining population in many rural areas in particular, and a declining birth rate. We know many colleges are beginning to feel the impact on their business model. And on Friday, Catawba Valley Community College announced a reduction in force in response, which involves reducing the size of the college’s programs.

The college released the following statement: “Much like other business and institutions across the region and country, the Board enacted the measure to combat post-secondary enrollment decline, rising operational expenses, declining regional population, and changes to the educational landscape post-COVID.”

We will continue to work on research around enrollment declines – colleges that are bucking the trend, evolving approaches to marketing and recruiting new students, retention efforts to keep students on track to graduate or transfer, and the changing business models of colleges across the state. We would like to hear from you on this issue. Just reply directly to this email with your thoughts.

As the system faces these challenges, the search for the next system president continues. Last week, the search committee announced the hiring of Buffkin/Baker to lead recruitment for the position: “The search process includes an assessment and finalization of the position profile, candidate sourcing and recruitment, and advisement of the Presidential Search Committee, background and reference checks and additional consulting,” the release says. “The firm is expected to move quickly in finalizing and producing the position profile to start the recruitment process.”

We also shared a portion of the recent presidential survey findings that you might find interesting:

Out of the more than 1,300 people who responded to the presidential survey, 40% said previously serving as a community college president best qualified a candidate to be system president. Community college presidents were the most likely to answer the question that way, at 67%, and foundation members were the least likely, at 17%.

Nineteen percent of student respondents said a community college president was the most qualifying position for a candidate. Another 42% of students said leading a community college system or university system was the most qualifying position. Among Board members, 45% also selected that prior job experience. The lowest-selected qualifying experience was previously serving as the president of a university at 2%.

We would love to hear from you. Do you agree with the survey results in terms of qualifications for the next system president and the challenges in front of them? Disagree? Please respond directly to this email with your thoughts!

Both the presidential search committee and the State Board of Community Colleges meet this week. Both meetings will be livestreamed on YouTube.

As the year comes to a close, I just wanted to express my personal appreciation for all of you. We sincerely appreciate the folks who read Awake58 and EdNC, along with everyone who has submitted a perspective, the hardworking PIO’s who keep us informed on the latest stories at your campuses, and everyone who has taken the time to host us for a visit. We also appreciate all of your hard work on behalf of our students, our state, and our collective future.

This will be our last Awake58 until January. We hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season.

I’ll see you out on the road in 2023,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth —

EdNC reads

National firm named to recruit next community college system president

The search committee for the next system president hopes to have a new leader in place this spring. The committee has met regularly to push forward with the process. Last week, the committee announced the search firm who will help lead the recruitment:

National search firm Buffkin/Baker will “recruit and assess” the next president of the N.C. Community College System (NCCCS), the system announced on Wednesday.

The State Board of Community Colleges’ Presidential Search Committee selected the firm on Tuesday “following a competitive bid process,” the system said in a release. The full Board approved the firm along with the state Department of Administration.

“The search process includes an assessment and finalization of the position profile, candidate sourcing and recruitment, and advisement of the Presidential Search Committee, background and reference checks and additional consulting,” the release says. “The firm is expected to move quickly in finalizing and producing the position profile to start the recruitment process.”

Hannah’s article also documents the findings from a recent survey designed to assist the committee and Buffkin/Baker as they put together the presidential profile. The survey asked about the background of prospective candidates, the top challenges facing the system, and more. Survey findings included the following:

Nearly seven out of 10 respondents (69%) identified faculty staff/retention as one of the biggest challenges for a president in the next five years. The next top challenge was the political landscape (49%) and increasing enrollment (48%). You can view the full aggregated results here.

The committee will hear from Buffkin/Baker and discuss next steps in the search this week.

Click here for more

Sampson Community College is prioritizing what students and local businesses need

Cheyenne McNeill traveled to Sampson Community College as part of our Impact58 tour. Her economic impact story on SCC takes a look at the college’s collaborations with local businesses to meet the changing needs of Sampson County. A diversifying Sampson County has led to one such partnership:

According to 2020 census data, 21.3% of the county’s population is Hispanic or Latinx. As this population grows in the county, the college is partnering with local businesses to provide English as a Second Language (ESL) courses in-house. One tool the college is implementing for these courses is the addition of “hot words” – keywords and phrases used in the work environment that will help ensure employees’ safety. The words and phrases are specific to each industry and are customizable.

Amanda Bradshaw, the dean of workforce development & continuing education at Sampson Community College, said being able to go into these local businesses and teach courses on-site makes the college more accessible to the business and its employees.

“I think industries are looking at this more from a holistic approach now of how to support their employees,” Bradshaw said. “And they’re understanding that yes, even though we do offer ESL classes during the day, or even though we do offer them in the evening here on campus, that might not fit some of those folks’ schedules.”

Cheyenne also explored the contributions from local industry to launch SCC’s trucking program, their welding program, and more. For her full article, click here.

South Piedmont Community College manufacturing apprenticeship makes big impact for its students, company

Hannah McClellan visited South Piedmont Community College to document their economic impact. In 2019-20, SPCC added $124.3 million in income to the economy, according a recent economic impact study. The report noted the college supports 1 out of every 51 jobs in their service area.

Hannah’s article examines the college’s emphasis on technology, apprenticeships, and manufacturing:

The college currently offers apprenticeships with more than 20 local companies, said Dr. Mark Little, dean of SPCC’s School of Applied Sciences and Technology.

South Piedmont’s apprenticeship with medical technology manufacturer Greiner Bio-One is the region’s “flagship program,” Little said. Greiner sponsors the apprenticeship program itself, paying for students’ tuition and fees.

Since the company started the apprenticeship in 2014, 10 apprentices have completed the 8,000-hour program, and more than a dozen are currently working as apprentices.

“What we saw was all of our technicians were getting in their mid 50s,” said Greiner’s Chris Wallace. “There [were] no young people, so we were like, ‘Man, what are we going to do? In 10 years we’re going to be in a mess, nobody’s going to be able to work on this equipment.’”

Students who complete the program earn their associate degree and the relevant technical license. Most apprenticeships are shorter, Little said, and a little easier to finish, but Greiner is more specialized.

“When they finish, they’re not just mediocre technicians,” Wallace said. “These are the cream of the crop – they’re leaders.”

For the remainder of Hannah’s article, click here.

Around NC

The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges Presidential Search Committee will meet in the Caswell Building located at 200 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC at 9 a.m. this Wednesday. The agenda can be found here.

The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges will also meet this Friday beginning at 9 a.m. The agenda is located here.

Both meetings will be livestreamed on the system’s YouTube channel.

Beaufort County Community College, Beaufort County Schools, and ECU Health Beaufort worked together to hold a health care fair to promote awareness of career opportunities in healthcare for more than 100 high school students recently.

Cape Fear Community College’s Small Business Center director Jerry Coleman won the State SBC Director of the Year award. Jerry recently hosted us for two different visits. A warm congratulations to Jerry!

As noted above, Catawba Valley Community College announced a Reduction in Force last week:

“These were not easy decisions and it is a difficult day for Red Hawk Nation,” said CVCC President Dr. Garrett D. Hinshaw. “I had remained hopeful that our college would fully recover following COVID, but that is not the case. I regret that these decisions were necessary for those affected and appreciate their contributions to our college and our students. Despite these difficult times, I believe that Red Hawk Nation will be resilient because we are committed to serve our students, community and business partners in both Catawba and Alexander counties. We will continue to offer dynamic educational programming, superior workforce training and sincere community investment because these are the pillars of our institution.”

Guilford Technical Community College announced two new Board of Trustee members – including the president of the Student Government Association.

Johnston Community College will help operate a new Advanced Manufacturing Center in Johnston County: “The Johnston County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Nov. 21 to approve up to $17.5 million in matching funds to build a 60,000-square-foot Advance Manufacturing Workforce Center in Four Oaks.”

Piedmont Community College recently held their second annual celebration for students and employees who are first-generation college students and/or graduates. I’d love to hear more about ongoing efforts on outreach for first-generation college students on your campus. Please reply directly to this email with your thoughts.

Richmond Community College announced a new transfer pathway with UNC-Wilmington: “Students who successfully complete an associate degree in Human Services Technology at Richmond CC can apply for admission to UNC Wilmington’s Bachelor of Social Work program… All social work courses will be offered online, so students will not have to relocate or commute to Wilmington.”

The Robesonian featured Robeson Community College’s efforts to address the nursing shortage in a recent report.

Wayne Community College’s fourth president Dr. Edward Wilson recently died. Wayne Community College president Dr. Patricia A. Pfeiffer released the following statement: “With the passing of Dr. Ed Wilson, we have lost a man who left a tremendous mark not only on this college and the North Carolina Community College System, but also on this community and this state.”

Other higher education reads

College aid letters are misleading students and need a legal fix

It comes as no surprise that college financial aid packages can be confusing — but a recent report from the Government Accountability Office lays out the details:

New federal research says colleges are failing to give accepted students clear and standard information about financial aid packages. The consequences can be extremely disruptive, including, for some students, dropping out of school.

The GAO report found that at best, offer letters can be confusing, and at worst, they are misleading.

Here’s how it happens: When students get accepted to college, the school sends a document explaining how much financial aid the student is eligible to receive. Usually that’s some combination of grants, scholarships, work-study and federal student loans.

These documents come across as marketing material. Some numbers are bolded (you got a $20,000 scholarship!) while some numbers are missing (it costs $70,000 a year!). And every letter looks different, making it really difficult for students to compare offers from different schools.

For the full report, click here. For the remainder of the article, including an update on legislation from Rep. Virginia Foxx to make financial aid more transparent, click here.

Hechinger Report has also announced the return of their tuition tracker in 2023.

LGBTQ+ college students are struggling

Hechinger Report evaluates the impact of recent LGBTQ+ legislation and news events on students. Hechinger’s Olivia Sanchez spoke with numerous experts and organizations across the country to evaluate how colleges might support students:

Matt Mustard, a senior strategic leader at the education consulting firm EAB, said that colleges should consider the broader benefits to helping LGBTQ+ students thrive.

“If we are not living out our commitment to equity and also proactively having that conversation with prospective students and other institutions, we are missing out on that many more bright, young, talented students we can enroll,” Mustard said. “For our schools that are intentionally, or with the best of intentions and poor execution, excluding our students, it will be harder and harder to compete with those that are getting this right.”

Mustard said college leaders should also consider the community beyond the campus. Whether students are safe and accepted off campus matters, too, he said. And colleges can take advantage of partnering with community organizations that already serve LGBTQ+ people to ensure that all students have the resources they need.

This piece reminded me of my colleague Hannah’s report on supports being offered by North Carolina community colleges for LGBTQ+ students. I’d encourage you to give her guide a read by clicking here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.