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The Senate budget is here. What did community colleges receive?

A note from us

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

The State Board of Community Colleges meets this week… The Senate budget was released last night… Anti-SB692 effort launches… MC Belk Pilon and Cecilia Holden among those named to the BusinessNC 2023 Power List… Sandhills and Randolph community colleges named new presidents… Alamance Community College President Algie Gatewood announced his retirement… Jeff Cox will officially begin as system president on June 1…

This is likely to be another week full of activity at the General Assembly.

The Senate budget dropped on Monday night. We will have analysis up on later today, so stay tuned. For now, here are a few highlights.

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. The proposed raise is less than that included in both the Governor’s and House budgets.

The proposal also includes nearly $26 million in recurring funds both years for labor marker adjustments for employees not paid on that experience-based schedule. 

There are several workforce items related to health care, including additional salary increases to nursing faculty – increasing starting pay by 10% and other nursing faculty potentially “receiving salary increases up to an additional 15%.” There is $19.5 million in non-recurring funds both years transferred from the ARPA Temporary Savings Fund to help start health-related programs at community colleges.

The proposal also includes policies nearly verbatim to the most updated version of Senate Bill 692, which would overhaul community college governance. Among other things, the Senate proposal requires General Assembly confirmation of the NCCCS President, and significantly changes the makeup of both the State Board of Community College and local community college boards.

Look for EdNC’s full budget story tonight. In the meantime, find the money report for the Senate proposal here, and the bill text for the proposal here.

The State Board of Community Colleges will hold their May meeting on Thursday and Friday this week. You can find more details here. Emily will be reporting on the meeting for our team.

New NCCCS President Dr. Jeff Cox will begin his tenure on June 1, according to a press release. It was previously reported that he would begin on July 1.

The State Board met in closed session last week to approve two new college presidents. Randolph Community College named Dr. Shah Ardalan as president. Ardalan is currently the president of Lone Star College-University Park in Houston, Texas. Randolph announced his appointment on May 9:

“Randolph Community College is uniquely poised to build on its rich history and serve as a collaborative and critical engine of socioeconomic growth, workforce development, and prosperity for the entire community and our partners,” said Dr. Ardalan. “It will be my honor and privilege to work with such a visionary Board and talented employees who are focused on increasing student access and success. RCC will thrive as a relevant, flexible, high-tech, and high-touch institution of higher education with deep respect for tradition and relentless drive for innovation. On a personal note, returning to North Carolina and leading RCC are like coming home and getting the perfect career opportunity as well.”

Sandhills Community College announced Dr. Alexander “Sandy” Stewart as the third full-time president of the institution:

It is with a great sense of optimism and with gratitude to the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees Presidential Search Committee, the State Board of Community Colleges, and the North Carolina Community College System that SCC announces the new President of Sandhills Community College!

Dr. Alexander “Sandy” Stewart will assume the mantle as President on July 1, 2023, filling the role with the same sense of purpose and commitment that Dr. Dempsey – and Dr. Stone before him – provided to this College and this community for almost six decades.

Alamance Community College President Dr. Algie Gatewood announced his retirement last week, effective July 1, 2023. More details can be found here.

It was a delight to see all of the photos from commencement ceremonies across the state over the weekend. I also had the distinct privilege of delivering the James Sprunt Community College commencement speech last week as part of their ceremony. After my speech, a faculty member for the college came up to me and said, “A night like tonight makes all of our work worthwhile.”

I agree. We would love to hear your graduation stories – and we want to share them. If you have a story about a student who is graduating that you’d like to lift up, reply directly to this message or email Emily at: [email protected].

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Chief of Growth —

EdNC reads

Which N.C. education bills are still in play this legislative session?

As mentioned above, the Senate budget dropped last night – which EdNC will have a full write-up on later today.

That proposal includes several bills that made the May 4 crossover deadline, meaning those bills passed at least one chamber in the General Assembly. More than 100 education-related bills made the deadline, including several related to community colleges:

The Senate passed Senate Bill 692, a bill that seeks to overhaul governance of the N.C. Community College System (NCCCS), on May 3 after several amendments were filed. One of the major changes rolled back some of the powers the original version vested in the system president.

The amendments to the bill, originally filed last month, came days after the State Board of Community Colleges named Wilkes Community College President Jeff Cox as the new system head.

Among other things, SB 692 would give the Republican-led General Assembly more power, reduce the authority of the State Board of Community Colleges, and take power away from the governor and local leaders. You can read more about the bill here.

The House unanimously passed House Bill 601, which calls for a study of community college funding. That bill now goes to the Senate.

The House also passed House Bill 607, largely along party lines. The bill would prohibit a constituent institution, like the UNC System or the NCCCS, from compelling students or employees to publicly express a given view of social policy.

You can read more about the education bills that made crossover here.

Education advocates take on this year’s legislative session

My colleague Alessandra published an in-depth primer last week related to the education advocacy during the 2023 legislative session. The article looks at the entire continuum, but here are a few highlights from the higher education section:

Tuition Fairness for All

Senate Bill 706, titled “In-State Tuition Equity,” was filed on April 6. The bill would expand opportunities for undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition at UNC institutions and community colleges if they attended school within the state for two consecutive years before high school and then graduated from a North Carolina high school.

Adult Learners

In late April, the Hunt Institute convened legislators and stakeholders to discuss the outcomes of these existing initiatives and the steps ahead to continue to support adult learners across North Carolina community colleges.

Dr. Patrick Crane, vice president of strategic initiatives for NCCCS, started the convening with a presentation highlighting the 28,690 new jobs in North Carolina announced by Gov. Roy Cooper in 2022. The jobs, which represent 182 business recruitment, expansion, or rural development projects, will bring $19.3 billion of capital investment into the state, Crane said.

Those jobs will need skilled and trained individuals, an area that community colleges are primed to tackle.

“Adult learners provide a unique opportunity for North Carolina to reimagine postsecondary pathways to meet our attainment goal, and most importantly, meet our workforce needs,” said Dr. Madeline Smith, director of higher education at the Hunt Institute. “Providing a space for legislators and higher education leaders to engage with one another fosters a greater alignment and collaboration to advance postsecondary policy.”

Click here for the full primer

My James Sprunt commencement

James Sprunt Community College President Dr. Jay Carraway and his team were kind enough to invite me to join them last week for their 2023 commencement ceremony. We will publish the full speech and photos soon, but for now, here is an excerpt from my remarks:

This brings me to my first piece of advice: You must be prepared for lifelong learning. And you must stay curious.

James Sprunt is one of our 58 community colleges in North Carolina. Through my job with EdNC, I have been fortunate enough to travel to 57 of the 58.

Dallas Herring is considered by many to be the father of the North Carolina Community College system. He also happens to have been born and raised right here in Duplin County.

Herring famously said the purpose of community colleges is to “take the people where they are, and carry them as far as they can go.”

This powerful sense of purpose is alive and well today. North Carolina’s 58 community colleges meet people where they are — and give them a chance to pursue their dreams. 

Many of our educational journeys were never as cut and dried as people entering kindergarten at the age of 5, graduating high school at 18, and graduating college between the ages of 20 and 22. 

Life happens — and our degrees and credentials count just the same at 42 as they do at 22. And that is where institutions like James Sprunt provide so much value.

Beyond the shifts in industry, we are also living longer lives. 

More and more of us will live to be 80 or 90 or 100 — and accompanying that shift is the reality of longer careers. Pew notes the soon-to-retire Baby Boomers will have switched jobs a dozen times before retiring — and your generation will likely switch jobs even more frequently.

In other words, the combination of complexity, change, and longer careers will mean lifelong learning is even more essential for all of you.

In the face of this reality I would remind you of the advice my favorite coach, Ted Lasso, shares with his team and friends: “Be curious. Not judgmental.”

I’d recommend listening to Coach Lasso. Your curiosity — and your open minds — will treat you well in this rapidly changing world.

We would love to hear and share your student stories from graduation and commencement. Either reply directly to this email or reach out to Emily at ethomas at ednc dot org.

Around NC

Warm congratulations are in order for all members of the Business North Carolina’s 2023 “Power List,” including John M. Belk Endowment President and Chair MC Belk Pilon and myFutureNC CEO and President Cecilia Holden.

The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges will meet this Thursday and Friday. Details are below. You can livestream from the system’s YouTube channel or watch in person at the system office, at 200 W Jones Street in Raleigh.

In case you missed it, you will find the latest newsletter from the system office here, including news about Dr. Jeff Cox, data partnerships, and immersive learning.

A new effort opposing SB692 sprung up last week with a website launch. We will monitor the effort in the weeks ahead.

As mentioned above, new NCCCS President Dr. Jeff Cox will officially start on June 1. His trustees and staff bid him a “warm farewell” last week at his last Wilkes Community College board meeting.

On Saturday, Robert Kinlaw was awarded the 2023 History + Film Best Documentary award by the Longleaf Film Festival Awards Program at the North Carolina Museum of History for his documentary “My Name is Merle,” which was produced by EdNC. The documentary follows Wilkes Community College and their role in MerleFest and the evolution of Americana music.

The Brunswick Surfin’ Turfs, a collegiate wood bat baseball team in Brunswick County, has signed a 10-year agreement with Brunswick Community College to make the college’s baseball field its home through the summer 2032 season.

Community colleges across the state hosted their graduation ceremonies last weekend. Cleveland Community College celebrated the largest graduating class in the history of the college – with 619 graduates and 894 credentials awarded. Craven Community College held its 56th annual commencement ceremony on Friday, with graduates ranging from just 16 to 66 years old. Here’s one more reminder to send us your graduation stories!

Alamance Community College President Dr. Algie Gatewood announced his retirement effective July 1, 2023.

Randolph Community College named Dr. Shah Ardalan president of the college last week. Ardalan was one of four finalists.

Sandhills Community College named Dr. Alexander “Sandy” Stewart president of the college during their commencement weekend. Stewart was one of three finalists.

Other higher education reads

The college-going gap between Black and white Americans was always bad. It’s getting worse

Staggering statistics in this deep dive from Hechinger Report:

Black college and university enrollment has been dropping steadily. Already down by 22 percent between 2010 and 2020, or by more than 650,000 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, it has fallen by another 7 percent since then, more recent figures from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show.

Even though the number of white students has also declined since 2010, the difference between the proportions of white students and Black students graduating with degrees has gotten bigger, data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center show.

Thirty-four percent of Black adults have associate degrees or higher, compared to 50 percent of white adults, according to the Lumina Foundation.

Read more here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.