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Transitions across the N.C. Community College System

A note from us

Hi, Emily here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed last week’s edition, you can read it by clicking here.

A recap from the State Board of Community Colleges’ meeting… The Senate budget’s provisions for community colleges… A letter from Durham Tech’s Board of Trustees regarding SB692… A look at Vance Granville’s efforts to serve four rural counties…  Dr. Jeff Cox will begin his role as System President starting June 1…

Last week, the State Board of Community Colleges met and approved several items regarding personnel, allocation of grants, and a high school adjunct instructor certificate. The Board also heard a report on economic development and the Volt Center in Craven County from Dr. Ray Staats, president of Craven Community College. You can listen to the presentation from the Board meeting here. And check out this article from Katie Dukes about the Volt Center. Katie visited Craven during EdNC’s impact tour of all 58 community colleges last fall. 

Dr. Jeff Cox will begin his role as System President on June 1. Until then, Dr. Kim Gold, the NCCCS’ chief of staff, will serve as interim president, as last week was the last State Board meeting for Dr. Bill Carver, who served as interim system president since last year. Morgan Francis was approved to serve as interim president at Wilkes Community College until a new president is chosen to replace Cox. Francis currently serves as the senior vice president of finance and administration at the college.

The Senate budget was dropped and passed last week. Nation mentioned a few items in the previous edition of Awake58 about the budget. Hannah’s full budget recap can be found here, which includes a section on budget items concerning community colleges and HBCUs. 

Durham Technical Community Colleges’s Board of Trustees sent a letter to state legislators on May 4 regarding Senate Bill 692. The letter outlines their concerns about the proposed changes in the makeup of local boards of trustees, and how it could impact workforce development in North Carolina. You can read the full letter here. 

Nation’s article about Vance-Granville Community College’s work to serve four rural counties is out. The piece is an overview of the college’s economic impact, and how they’re working to train individuals in advanced manufacturing and IT.  

Several team members will be on the road this week visiting Madison and Haywood counties. EdNC will be in Canton with local and state leaders to help workers think about transitioning health insurance.

A quick reminder that we’ll be pausing Awake58 next week, but we will pick back up the following week with graduation stories from around the state. If you haven’t done so already, please email me at [email protected] or reply directly to this email with your stories. 

Until next time – 

Emily Thomas

Policy Analyst –

EdNC reads

Personnel transitions, Finish Line Grants, and more discussed during State Board of Community Colleges meeting

This month’s State Board of Community Colleges meeting heralded several transitions that will play out in the coming months.

Dr. Laura Leatherwood, president of Blue Ridge Community College, delivered her first report to the Board as president of the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents (NCACCP). Leatherwood succeeds Dr. Jeff Cox, who will begin his role as the system president starting June 1, 2023.

Leatherwood’s report included reflections about the success of the state’s community colleges, paying special attention to this month’s graduates. On average, the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) credentials more than 50,000 students each year.

LaTasha Bradford, president of N4CSGA and, in turn, the Board student representative, took a moment during her final report to the Board to express her gratitude for having served alongside them.

“This experience is really invaluable. And I hope this experience remains for future students because you cannot get these types of lessons anywhere else,” Bradford said. “From leadership to relationship building to fortitude to perseverance – this is a great training ground for any student.”

Bradford’s comments were in response to Senate Bill 692, a bill that would change governance within the community college system. If the bill passes, the State Board of Community Colleges would no longer have a student representative after July 1, 2023.

Board member Dr. Grant Campbell asked others to emphasize the importance of student voices on the Board as legislators continue their deliberations on SB 692 in the coming weeks.

Other items to note from the Board meeting:

  • Brandy Andrews, NCCCS’ vice president and chief financial officer is taking on a new role outside the system office in July.
  • Several Board members’ terms expire at the end of June, including, Wade Bryan (Bobby) Irwin Jr., Burr Sullivan, and Ann Whitford. With the exception of Irwin, who has met term limits, all other Board members can be reappointed. The honorable Chaz Beasley and the honorable Ray Russell are also up for reappointment. Both members were appointed to fill a vacant Board seat of exiting Board members whose term had not yet expired.

Read the full recap here. 

Public education takes hit in Senate budget

Hannah recaps the Senate budget from last week, which dropped on Monday and was passed on Thursday.

The Senate’s proposal appropriates $1.5 billion to the N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) during both years of the biennium. The proposal includes an across-the-board salary increase of 2.5% in 2023-24 for most employees, or a 4.5% increase if the employee is paid on an experience-based salary schedule. There is an additional across-the-board 2.5% increase in 2024-25.

Those proposed raises are less than that included in both the governor’s and House budgets. The raise is also less, for most employees, than the system’s legislative request for a 7% increase over two years.

Here are a few other items of note for community colleges in the Senate budget:

  • About $285 million in new funding to the system over the biennium.
  • A 3.1% increase in funds, based on the system’s full-time equivalent (FTE) increase.
  • Additional salary increases to nursing faculty – increasing starting pay by 10% and other nursing faculty potentially “receiving salary increases up to an additional 15%.”
  • Nearly $70 million in nonrecurring funds to develop and expand community college courses in high-demand fields like nursing and other health-related programs. 

Read more here.

Here’s how one community college is serving four rural counties

Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC) is responsible for serving students, training prospective workers, and meeting community needs in Vance, Granville, Franklin, and Warren counties.

According to an economic impact report, Vance-Granville supports one out of every 30 jobs in the counties it serves and has an annual economic impact of $129.5 million.

The college’s economic impact is connected directly to one of its most important strategic objectives: training skilled workers to meet workforce needs for the communities they serve.

Ken Wilson is a project manager for Vance-Granville’s TechHire program – a program that seeks to train workers in IT and advanced manufacturing.

“We are the trainer in the region. There’s nobody else who has the breadth and depth that we do in a lot of the trades. So we train from mechatronics, to welding, to HVAC, electrical, CDL,” he said. “We’re the ones that are supplying a lot of these workers.”

President Dr. Rachel Desmarais said advanced manufacturing is where a lot of movement is seen in her service area, particularly in Granville. But the college also must work with the K-12 districts, other community organizations, and even families to convince prospective students to pursue opportunities in the field.

Desmarais noted that advanced manufacturing is already a big driver for the economies of her counties — and that the industry’s need for workforce will likely only continue to grow.

This presents opportunity for the college — but also a challenge, according to Desmarais.

Read more about those challenges and opportunities in Nation’s piece here. 

Around NC

Durham Tech’s Board of Trustees sent a letter to legislative leadership on May 4, 2023 about SB 692 and their concerns about changes to local board governance. The letter was sent prior to the Senate’s budget proposal, which includes language from the bill.

Richmond Community College’s truck driving program is setting records with their graduation rates. Read the full story here.

The ultimate “dog cave” was designed and built by Robeson Community College’s Jeremiah Locklear. It’s a one-of-a-kind design feature with all the luxuries a dog could ask for.

Dr. Marc Sosne was sworn in to Cape Fear Community College’s Board of Trustees.

A student project at Cape Fear Community College culminated in a new outdoor kitchen for local nonprofit. 

Check out this campus newsletter from Blue Ridge Community College regarding new programs, scholarships, and graduation.

A recent article from the Daily Advance explored the College of the Albemarle’s reengagement with adult learners.

Stanly Community College welcomed new board members last week.

Vance-Granville Community College student Damonica Smith is on her way to getting her GED thanks to specialized equipment at the college. Read the full student story here. 

The Belk Center is hiring a finance and human resources manager. You can view the job posting here.

Other higher education reads

Postsecondary Pathways | Supporting Latinx Students on Campus

Next month, the Hunt Institute is hosting a webinar about postsecondary pathways and campus supports for Latinx students.

Latinx learners comprise a growing share of all students enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, between 2000 and 2020, the number of Latinos enrolled at four-year institutions jumped from 620,000 to 2.4 million, a 287% increase. By comparison, overall student enrollment at four-year institutions in the U.S. grew by 50% during this time. As postsecondary enrollment amongst Latinx learners continue to increase, it is imperative that this population is supported and feel a sense of belonging in their learning environments. The Latinx population is amazingly diverse and understanding such informs how institutions and higher education stakeholders can intentionally cultivate a more inclusive campus climate. During this webinar, attendees will learn how higher education institutions and policymakers are making the success of Latinx learners a collective priority and will be informed of the best practices that Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) are employing to support the educational attainment of the Latinx student population.

The webinar is scheduled for June 15 at 2 p.m. EST. Click here to register. 

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is the Director of Postsecondary Attainment for EducationNC.