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'Students from community college know how to knock down barriers.'

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Hi, Nation here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed our last newsletter featuring advice from adult learners and an update on remediation, you can find it on our website.

The State Board of Community Colleges held their annual retreat last week… We feature a perspective from the North Carolina Community College Archives… We visited Saint Augustine’s University over the course of several months for a new profile… And maybe we will see a budget vote this week…

Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58 — where we once again share that we may (or may not) see a budget this week. Stay tuned.

My colleague Hannah McClellan attended the State Board of Community Colleges retreat last week, where the Board approved its Year 1 goals for N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) President Dr. Jeff Cox. Those goals include leading the system’s strategic plan initiatives, strengthening system office structure and culture, engaging crucial constituencies, and facilitating development of a statewide marketing initiative.

“These goals are ambitious in nature, (and) will not all be accomplished within a year but are critical to our long-term success,” the goals document says. “We will measure the President by ascertaining how well he leads the System Office and Community Colleges in making progress toward these goals over the next year.”

I had the chance to go on several visits to Saint Augustine’s University in recent months. One big takeaway is the focus of SAU President Dr. Christine McPhail on community college partnerships. Here is a short excerpt from my piece:

McPhail believes increasing the enrollment of community college students at her institution will also support their broader mission to bolster student success.

“Students from community college know how to knock down barriers. So that’s why I believe they can be extremely successful when they come here,” McPhail noted.

Finally, I wanted to share some takeaways from a recent panel conversation I participated in at a retreat for college presidents and college trustees. Nathan Hardin, the executive director of communications for the community college system, organized the panel — which also included Fayetteville Technical Community College President Dr. Mark Sorrells, Amy Davis-Moore from ApprenticeshipNC, and Durham Technical Community College Trustee Gracie Johnson-Lopez. All of the panelists were wonderful — and I would recommend connecting with all of them moving forward.

Here are a few main points I recommended that colleges consider regarding their marketing efforts.

  • Mass media isn’t necessarily in existence anymore. Cord cutting and a shift to consuming content on devices has meant that even ESPN is in far fewer homes than just five years ago. This has created a fragmented media ecosystem where different target audiences are likely to consume content in very different venues.
  • Consider your audiences: Prospective donors and policymakers may still be reading the newspaper and watching the evening news. Prospective adult learners may be gathering at churches and rotary clubs and driving to work. Prospective students in middle and high school are likely among those consuming more than two hours daily of video content on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
  • Remember personalized outreach and in-person events will go a long way toward connecting with prospective learners. They likely care more about your message and pitch than they do about a stress ball or pen with your logo.
  • Your students, staff, and faculty have powerful stories. Consider giving them tools to create messages on your behalf and spread through channels they are already authentically using.

I’d love to know what you think of those tips — and if you have any of your own!

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Chief of Growth —

EdNC reads

State Board of Community Colleges approves presidential goals, discusses strategic plan metrics

The State Board of Community Colleges met for its annual retreat last week at Wayne Community College. As mentioned above, the Board approved its Year 1 goals for President Cox.

Next month, the Board is set to vote on another document outlining the evaluation process for Cox’s goals. Specifically, that document will outline what action items will result in a bonus for Cox.

“So much of what is in this document is already underway,” said Board member Ray Russell. “We are hoping to wrap up this process next month with that evaluation sheet.”

Below is a list of the goals approved last Friday. The full list of goals is available in the Board’s meeting materials.

  • Lead strategic plan initiatives to advance the N.C. Community College System, including: developing an updating funding model, scaling system capacity for workforce development, and creating a sustainability plan for rural colleges.
  • Strengthen system office structure, leadership development, and culture and engagement.
  • Engage Crucial Constituencies, including the General Assembly, Governor, education and workforce partners, and more.
  • Oversee the continued development and execution of a comprehensive, statewide and national communications, marketing and branding plan.

Among other things, the Board also discussed tactics for the first year of its strategic plan, and work toward an updated funding formula. The full recap is on our website.

Saint Augustine’s University: A ‘Year of Progress, Transparency, and Partnership’

Over the last several months, I have had the chance to visit with administrators, faculty, staff, and students at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh. During a half-day with SAU President Dr. Christine McPhail, she walked me through her ambitious vision for the university. Notably, her vision includes a focus on partnerships with community colleges.

A key part of the work moving forward for SAU is their partnerships with community colleges. McPhail’s background in the space has aided her in advancing articulation agreements and other partnerships with community colleges both in North Carolina and beyond. McPhail nodded to her work in Michigan as one reason SAU now has articulation agreements with two-year institutions in the state.

McPhail believes increasing the enrollment of community college students at her institution will also support their broader mission to bolster student success.

“Students from community college know how to knock down barriers. So that’s why I believe they can be extremely successful when they come here,” McPhail noted.

She hopes SAU will be a trendsetter and that other HBCUs will follow their lead in deepening their relationships with community colleges.

I also had the chance to visit with SAU student Peter Musenge, who told me:

“I would choose Saint Augustine 10 out of 10 times. And primarily because I don’t think there’s any better school out there with a faculty and staff that are invested and engaged to see the progress in your academic and personal lives. Some professors call you over summer or winter break or ask if you need to do something specific with your life. So there’s this high investment of their time, talents, and efforts in you. Please tell me how many schools you can find where you come at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., and you’ll find the dean seated helping a student with their math homework. And so if you want to learn and progress in your career, I think Saint Augustine’s University is the best place to do that.”

My article features additional details from Peter’s story and Dr. McPhail’s vision for the university.

Perspective | North Carolina Community College Archives Association preserves fragile history

Clark Adams is the president of the North Carolina Community College Archives Association and a full-time faculty member at Randolph Community College. He recently shared his perspective on the role of the Archives Association.

As community college employees, we must also remember who we are and where we are. We are our community’s college and represent and serve those who live in our community. We serve as a beacon of service, selflessness, hope, and opportunity. The history of each of our 58 community colleges is inextricably linked to the history of our counties and service areas, and simultaneously documents the history and culture of our communities through our students, our community leaders, and the significant events in our local community’s history. This becomes an excellent source of local history and genealogical research. Without our college archives collections, our community loses its history as well. We owe it to those in our communities who we serve to preserve their stories.

Our association has important work to do in saving the history of our 58 community colleges, but this is a team effort. We need all the help and support that we can get and welcome anyone who has an interest in the history of their own college, our community college system, or North Carolina history to become a member and help us in our efforts. There is no membership fee. Go here for more information on the association and how to join.

Clark’s article also outlines the history of the Association — and why the Association initially emerged.

Around NC

Happy trails to Dr. Matthew Meyer, the associate vice president of business engagement and partnerships at the system office. Matt was among the first community college leaders to take EdNC on the road and introduce us to the system. We wish him well as he pursues his next chapter.

Scott Hamilton, the president and CEO of GoldenLEAF, recently sat down with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC Foundation President Dr. John Lumpkin as part of his “critical conversations.” The conversation included a lot on community colleges.

Dr. Lumpkin mentioned that the funder of his Foundation, BCBSNC, is leading an initiative called the Extra Miles Tour to visit every county in North Carolina. So far, BCBSNC has visited 90 counties. You can track the progress and read about the tour here. Dr. Lumpkin explained that although every county has its unique differentiating factors, common themes are seen at each visit. He said health care themes that affect economic progress such as access to healthcare, access to healthy food, availability of workforce housing, access to broadband, and access to childcare. Dr. Lumpkin stated that another major takeaway is the important role of community colleges. Dr. Lumpkin said that the community colleges are a driving force for companies to locate in an area because of the customizable training offered at the colleges.

Many of your colleges have hosted Blue Cross NC on the Extra Miles Tour. It is clear your willingness to host them has had an impact!

Beaufort County Community College announced a new transfer pathway and partnership with East Carolina University.

Cape Fear Community College recently shared the touching story of family and friends coming together to honor Darius Brunson, who died from Leukemia last year. The funds they raised will support two aspiring chefs each academic year.

Halifax Community College celebrated the inauguration of President Dr. Patrena Elliott, who started in the role in January. RRSpin reported on the event, which included legislators, trustees, and business leaders:

Jeff Cox, president of the North Carolina State Board of Community College Systems, told Elliott, “We’re all exceedingly proud of you and happy for you and happy for all of you all. I shared with some of the trustees backstage they’ve chosen wisely. The more I’m around Dr. Elliott, the more confident I am in that decision. You picked a winner.”

The Richmond County Daily Journal recently published a powerful student story featuring Richmond Community College graduate Tonja McPhaul.

“My kids were actually my motivation. I knew I wanted better for them, so I was just trying to finish,” McPhaul said. “My daughter, who is the only girl, would help me out a lot with a simple reminder to make sure my assignments were completed. She would say, ‘Ma, did you turn in your work?’”

South Piedmont Community College announced the “largest long-term training agreement” in the college’s history with ConMet. According to a release from the college, Conmet is a, “a global manufacturer of commercial vehicle parts, will lead to new and existing employees to being trained in computer skills, leadership, continuous improvement, maintenance, safety, and robotics… The partnership is the largest yet for South Piedmont’s newly formed Business Solutions division, which was created to work alongside area employers to design customized workforce training programs.”

Central Carolina Community College received a sub-award to partner with N.C. State University and the North Carolina Extension Service in Lee County to facilitate the YEA Juntos Program at Lee County High School. The grant allows for 60 Latinx students to participate in the program each year.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Piedmont Community College will host a live performance of the nationally touring comedy show, “The Creation of Hispanics,” on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 12 p.m. in the D101 Auditorium on the Person County Campus.

Other higher education reads

Short-term programs bring long-lasting benefits—when designed with students in mind

The Lumina Foundation published a piece exploring the value of crafting credentialing programs — and focusing on quality outcomes — with “students in mind,” as the importance of credentials increases for the public, philanthropists, and policymakers.

At the same time, the quality of non-degree programs has been all over the map. The best programs prepare students immediately for desirable jobs, well-paying apprenticeships, or further education. They also build on each other. But other programs lack the content and instruction that assure students of any of these outcomes. Some for-profit programs even have left students with worthless credentials and mountains of debt.

To fulfill their promise, experts say, short-term credential programs must be held to a high standard of quality—one that should be clearly and universally defined.

According to the National Skills Coalition, an organization that helps states shape policies for  workforce development, a “quality credential” program is one that provides students with sound career counseling, job-related knowledge and skills, and equal access and opportunity. It makes sure that those who complete the program can demonstrate the competencies needed for available jobs. (Notably, doing so needn’t require a minimum of credit hours or “seat time.”) Crucially, the program must show evidence of employment and solid earnings.

Lumina goes on to list a number of innovative programs in the article. We’d welcome your perspective!

And, in case you missed it, Inside Higher Ed also has an interesting review of three strategies that can support successful transfers for community college students to four-year institutions.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.