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The fall semester kicks off soon. When will we see a budget?

A note from us

Hi, Nation here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed our last newsletter reviewing the State Board meeting and performance goals, you may find it by clicking here.

The N.C. Department of Commerce and other state partners held a First in Talent Virtual Town Hall last week… Twenty years after Pillowtex closed in Kannapolis, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College helps recount the journey…

We are in the final weeks before students return to our schools, community colleges, and universities. For some, this means a final shot at vacation. For others, it means their weeks are full of preparation. When I called one HBCU leader last week about an upcoming visit, they were busy walking every building on campus to identify a maintenance checklist. A community college president I talked with last week was poring over fall enrollment data when I called.

The next few weeks will be busy ones for everyone across the educational continuum.

State budget negotiations continue — and some media outlets are reporting the legislature may break the budget into “mini-budgets” as a way to piecemeal their way towards a full budget. The leaders of both chambers continue to indicate they expect a full budget agreement to be reached. We’ll keep monitoring their progress.

And, of course, part of monitoring their progress is seeing how the community college system as a whole fares against the backdrop of their legislative agenda, including the system’s request for “student investment” and pay raises for faculty and staff.

Classes resume in the fall for community colleges regardless of the budget status — and we’ll be closely monitoring enrollment trends across the system. It remains to be seen for two-year postsecondary institutions across the country how enrollment will trend. Nationally, enrollment has been in a cycle of decline for some time now, with COVID accelerating the decline. Some North Carolina community colleges have bucked the trend of late, and the system seems to have at least stabilized. Now, the question remains: Can enrollment claw back to pre-pandemic numbers?

What else should be on our minds? We are always here to listen.

We have one minor correction from last week. Jenny Varner will be serving as the acting president at Davidson-Davie Community College.

We will distribute a survey next week asking for your feedback on this newsletter. We also want to know your ideas for EdNC stories, along with issues we should be researching and trips we should be planning this fall. In the meantime, you can also reply directly to this email with your thoughts.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn
Chief of Growth,

P.S. In case you missed it, the State Board of Community Colleges formally approved performance goals for System President Dr. Jeff Cox at its July meeting. What do you think of the goals that were established? Check them out here and then let us know what you think by replying to this email.

EdNC reads

NC has a plan to be first in talent. Town hall held to talk about progress

The workforce panel discussed the strategies to lead the nation in work-based learning and increase labor force participation rates for populations with barriers.

In 2022, the N.C. Workforce Credentials Council published a list of more than 130 non-degree industry-valued credentials to help students and employees prepare for in-demand and frontline careers that are essential to North Carolina’s future.

“As a state that aims to be ‘First in Talent’ it’s imperative that we deploy work-based learning opportunities and apprenticeships that offer K-12 students practical work experiences for rewarding careers in high-demand fields,” said workforce panelist Trey Michael, senior director of career and technical education at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

The business panel shared updates on strategies to promote talent development and enhance business growth and to invest in key production sectors that fuel our state and national economies.

Read more of the N.C. Department of Commerce’s press release here.

The 20th anniversary of Pillowtex

As we’ve closely documented the sudden closure of the paper mill in Haywood County, we have looked to the example of the Pillowtex closure in Kannapolis for examples of what worked.

Here are some highlights from a recent event recapping the community’s journey over the last two decades, from a press release from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Although the closure of Pillowtex marked the largest one-day job loss in North Carolina history, the regional response to retrain and re-employ displaced workers became a model for other towns to address mass layoffs.

“The College is, and for sixty years has been, ready and able to respond to workforce development needs in our community,” said Dr. Carol Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “From helping displaced employees determine their next steps to creating programs to train workers for the specific needs of companies new to our region, one of our top priorities is to meet people where they are and prepare them for successful employment.”

Rowan-Cabarrus team members worked at satellite offices in Kannapolis to serve thousands of people with varying needs, and the project became the catalyst for what is now the Rowan-Cabarrus R3 (Refocus, Retrain, Re-employ) Career Services Center, which still offers services tailored to the needs of job seekers. Today’s R3 team assists the public with job counseling, resumes, interviewing, career readiness certifications, computer fundamentals, and more.

“We meet people where they are, helping them build the skills they need and connecting them with employers,” Spalding said. “In the event that there is ever a company closing or a mass layoff, we are part of the response team, working closely with partners including the Centralina Workforce Development Board, NCWorks, local government officials, and others. We hope it never happens, but if it does, we are here to give people the hope they need in a time of uncertainty.”

You can find the full release, and a video of the conversation, here.

Around NC

The Dallas Herring Lecture will take place Nov. 14. The Belk Center invitation reads as follows: “Join us for the 2023 Dallas Herring Lecture! This year’s lecture called ‘Daring To Be Extraordinary: Transforming the Structure of How We Work’ will be given by Dr. Falecia Williams, president of Prince George’s Community College (MD).” You may sign up here.

The Hunt Institute will host two postsecondary webinars in August. Check out both events here.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has remained on the road as part of their Extra Miles Tour. They recently visited Dare, Hyde, and Martin counties.

In Dare they spent time on the campus of College of the Albemarle. To learn more about COA’s work as a community catalyst for improving the health and well-being of Dare County residents click here. Beaufort County Community College President Dr. Dave Loope convened the conversation in Hyde County. The community focused on the variety of challenges and opportunities ahead for a county that includes Ocracoke Island and dozens of miles of coastline. To learn more about Hyde County, click here. And finally, they spent time on the campus of Martin Community College. Of course, they visited the equine programming — but they were also fortunate to learn more about the college’s role as a hub for economic development, health care workforce, and more. The write-up of their time on Martin’s campus can be found here.

According to Strada Education: “North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is among 22 historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) included in an expanded partnership with a national foundation dedicated to helping leverage successful pathways through postsecondary education that lead to graduate school and career opportunities.”

Alamance Community College recently announced that former Fayetteville Tech President Dr. Larry Keen will serve as the college’s interim president. Keen will serve as president while the college conducts its search for a permanent replacement for Dr. Algie Gatewood.

Central Piedmont Community College will offer an associate degree program in human services technology with a social work concentration starting in August, according to a release from the college.

Fayetteville Technical Community College is working to grow its apprenticeship program, according to a release from the college. The release spotlights one local business that recently joined their apprenticeship work. Last week, FTCC also hosted a summit focused on defense technology that included Senator Thom Tillis and military leadership from Fort Liberty.

Forsyth Technical Community College commemorated its basic law enforcement training program receiving the top marks in the state in the new performance measures from the system office, according to a college release from last week.

McDowell Technical Community College issued a press release regarding MTCC President Brian Merritt being named the chief academic officer for the system office. You can read the release here.

Pitt Community College recently purchased land and a pair of buildings on the former Alliance One property in Farmville to use as its PCC Farmville Center for Applied Technology, according to a release.

Rockingham Community College recently announced it will more than double the size of its welding program to meet industry demands. The college also spotlighted some students who recently graduated with high school diplomas thanks to their hard work. You can read those inspiring stories here.

Other higher education reads

‘A second prison’: People face hidden dead ends when they pursue a range of careers post-incarceration

The Hechinger Report has a new article out looking at the challenges for students pursuing higher education while behind bars. The piece looks at this issue through the prism of one person who ran into some of the “14,000 laws and regulations”  restricting people who have been convicted – or even just arrested – from receiving licenses for certain careers. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Yet the case for education as a counter to recidivism is so convincing the federal education department earlier this month announced a massive expansion of Pell grants for people pursuing higher education from behind bars. About 30,000 of these individuals are expected to get $130 million worth of the federal aid each year, a cost that researchers have found is far less than detaining reoffenders.

Higher educational attainment is directly correlated with a lower likelihood of being reincarcerated, as is stable employment. Both pieces of evidence have swayed policymakers nationwide. The Institute for Justice found 40 states have eased or eliminated some of their laws keeping people with criminal records from getting employment licenses since 2015. Yet with every type of license bearing its own local, state or federal limitations, many thousands of collateral consequences remain.

I recommend you give this article a read.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.