A note from us
Welcome to Awake58 — EdNC’s newsletter focused on community colleges and the postsecondary landscape in North Carolina. We appreciate you allowing us into your inbox this week. If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter.
Durham Tech announced a new affordable housing initiative that will serve both their students and the community… The State Board of Community Colleges met last week… The Trailblazer project continues with a profile of Edgecombe president Gregory McLeod… Policymakers are taking steps towards ending mask mandates within school systems…
Affordable, available, and accessible housing is often identified as a key issue as we travel the state. Durham Tech just announced they will play a role in their own community as they take the lead on a 124-unit affordable housing initiative.
“This affordable housing initiative delivers on Durham Tech’s commitment to be part of this community’s solution to address housing insecurity and homelessness,” said Durham Tech President J.B. Buxton at a press conference last week. “We believe this project will be transformative for our students and the broader community who need affordable housing.” Read more from my colleague Liz Bell.
The State Board of Community Colleges met last week. The Board heard an update on the strategic planning process and the new executive director for the North Carolina Community Colleges Foundation. They also reviewed two ongoing processes, a Board self-evaluation and system office organizational assessment. Emily Thomas’ write-up of the meeting can be found here.
As COVID-19 case numbers decline, Gov. Roy Cooper is encouraging school boards to lift mask mandates. At a press conference last week, Cooper said masking and gathering limits were the best tools available at the beginning of the pandemic, but they aren’t the only options anymore.
At the same time, the legislature passed a bill that would allow parents to opt out of local mask mandates for their children. Cooper did not say Thursday if he will sign the bill. For Anna’s full piece, click here.
Our Moment of Hope series continues to spotlight community college faculty, staff, administrators, and students who are doing amazing work day in and day out. Check out our latest Moment of Hope featuring Carole Koehler of Isothermal Community College. We welcome additional nominations from across the 58. Submit your nomination here!
Thank you for reading Awake58 this week.
I’ll see you out on the road,
Director of Growth — EdNC.org
Final numbers show 2% enrollment increase for N.C. community colleges
The State Board of Community Colleges met Feb. 17-18. The Board heard a number of updates, including the most recent fall 2021 enrollment numbers.
According to system president Thomas Stith, enrollment is up 2% systemwide. Out of 58 colleges, 33 reported FTE increases. The largest bumps in enrollment occurred within basic skills (up 40%) and workforce continuing education (up 22%). While curriculum bounced back some from the previous fall, enrollment among curriculum still shows a 3% decline.
The strategic planning committee is making headway on the system’s 2022-2026 strategic plan. Board members and system office staff hosted eight regional listening sessions to find out the biggest challenges facing N.C. community colleges. Early results show faculty and staff retention and recruitment as the number one issue followed by enrollment declines. You can read more about the Board’s next steps here.
The Board welcomed Grant Godwin, the new executive director of the North Carolina Community Colleges Foundation. Godwin shared his vision for the foundation and plans for the upcoming year.
Both the State Board and system office are engaged in self-evaluations.
The Board released a draft of their self-evaluation survey intended to help establish an annual goal and expectations for the system president and design and execute a three-year board engagement and development plan. Results from the survey will be shared at the March Board meeting.
During the meeting, Board members heard a presentation about the system office’s organizational assessment. The assessment is meant to ensure that the system office is “properly resourced and aligned with stakeholders to meet its vision and mission.” Surveys, interviews, and focus groups have already been conducted by an outside consultant, CampusWorks. A final report from CampusWorks is expected in April.
Durham Tech shares affordable housing development plans
EdNC’s Liz Bell attended a significant affordable housing announcement from Durham Tech last week. The college, along with several partners, announced plans to build a 124-unit affordable housing development adjacent to campus.
A recent Temple University survey of more than 700 Durham Tech students found that 50% of students said they had experienced housing insecurity and 20% reported experiencing homelessness.
Durham Tech board member Michael Page praised the initiative as one that “connects housing to education to career to be able to create real and substantive change.”
Sarah Pohlig, a former Durham Tech student who struggled to make ends meet as a single mother, shared, “It’s hard for people to go out and do great things if they’re not coming from a secure, safe home base,” Pohlig said. “I think that’s almost impossible.”
Governor’s education cabinet takes on longitudinal data, workforce strategy, and more
The Governor’s Education Cabinet met last week to tackle a range of subjects, including an executive order Gov. Cooper signed to create a governance board for the North Carolina Longitudinal Data System (NCLDS). As Alex Granados explains, “The NCLDS is a ‘system of systems’ that connects data across agencies (like early childhood, K-12, postsecondary education, and the workforce) to track how students are doing from when they enter the early childhood system through their participation in the workforce. Ideally, as a better-linked and targeted data system, NCLDS could help support evidence-based policymaking.”
The cabinet also heard an update on common course numbering from UNC System President Peter Hans. Hans shared that UNC System staff identified 156 courses that will have “direct equivalency” at all UNC System schools. These courses include the most commonly transferred courses between North Carolina community colleges and UNC System schools.
“We feel like this is going to be a major step forward to transferring students of all kinds,” Hans said.
See the presentation on the common numbering system here.
For the rest of the details on the meeting, click here.
Trailblazer Profiles: Dr. Greg McLeod
The Trailblazer profile of Edgecombe Community College president Greg McLeod was recently released. According to the Belk Center, “The purpose of the NCCCS Trailblazer Profiles is to highlight and celebrate the work of Asian, Black, Indigenous, and Latin leaders in the North Carolina Community College System, specifically focusing on current and former community college presidents.”
McLeod grew up in the small town of Raeford. “In Raeford, we didn’t have too many minorities in positions of leadership, government or business,” he said. “I saw people in different professions, but if you don’t see people who look like you, you don’t know what you can truly be.”
McLeod taught middle school math, left education to work in corporate marketing, and eventually made his way back to teaching as an adjunct math professor at Durham Tech. McLeod’s career path took him to Florida before eventually making his way back to North Carolina as president of Edgecombe Community College.
For the full profile, click here.
The N.C. Community College system sent out a press release on fall 2021 enrollment numbers: “The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges (NCSBCC) today at its monthly meeting received information that enrollment climbed nearly 2 percent across North Carolina’s community colleges in the fall of 2021… The growth was consistent, with 33 of 58 community colleges reporting increases. Enrollment boomed in basic skills education, advancing 40 percent. Short-term workforce education surged, jumping 22 percent. The number of students in traditional academic programs fell by 3 percent. The N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) serves more than 500,000 students a year, many of them part-time. Enrollment is calculated as a full-time equivalent measure.”
System president Thomas Stith also appeared on Spectrum News to discuss vocational training at the 58 community colleges.
myFutureNC and Carolina Demography recently released a new attainment trends workbook designed to help folks “understand trends in educational indicators at the state- and county-level,” according to myFutureNC. The workbook can be found here.
The Hunt Institute issued a new policy brief that “explores the idea of embedding equity across the education continuum to boost postsecondary attainment, identifies barriers to achieving equity, and includes examples of states’ work to ensure equity across the education continuum.”
The Hunt Institute also has two upcoming webinars:
- March 29 | “Early childhood care and education in the United States is at both a crisis points and an inflection point. Combined with a steady demand for childcare and increased attention to the field, there is an urgent need for a well-prepared and professionally compensated early childhood workforce.” To RSVP, click here.
- April 12 | “Indigenous students are a demographic group that have consistently been underrepresented at institutions of higher education (IHE) in the United States, despite tremendous growth in enrollment in recent years. This is due in part to the distinct barriers and aspects of identity that indigenous students hold compared to other groups. This session will focus on the various factors that affect indigenous students access and persistence at IHEs.” To RSVP, click here.
Construction costs have risen in recent years — leading Alamance Community College to ask county leaders for additional resources for bond-funded projects.
Beaufort County Community College announced a new investment from the Cannon Foundation to support their boatbuilding program.
NCCCS president Thomas Stith visited Brunswick Community College recently. Stith has now visited all 58 campuses during his tenure.
Cape Fear Community College is launching a medical lab tech program in response to demand for lab technicians.
Central Carolina Community College wrote up our recent Extra Miles Tour visit with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in a press release. CCCC president Lisa Chapman also met with Lee County commissioners recently and shared an update on their promise program, which guarantees two years or five semesters of free tuition for students who are dually enrolled.
Durham Tech is moving forward with plans for a 911 Operator Academy.
Davidson-Davie Community College announced last week that it has been designated a Leader College of Distinction by the national nonprofit Achieving the Dream.
Y’all know I love BBQ. McDowell Tech has provided me with a reason to visit to see their BBQ exhibit.
Wake Tech announced last week in a press release that the college has been awarded a “National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of nearly $1.4 million to enhance undergraduate research opportunities for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students. The award is Wake Tech’s largest NSF grant to date and the college is among the first to receive funding from this new NSF grant program for STEM education and research at two-year higher education institutions.”
Wilson Community College president Tim Wright announced he will retire in 2023. We will document the process to identify Wright’s replacement.
Other higher education reads
More students are dropping out of college
College enrollment declines nationally are not just being driven by incoming freshman, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The Hechinger Report has a story out looking at the crisis:
Of the 2.6 million students who started college in fall 2019, roughly 679,000 — or 26.1 percent — didn’t come back the next year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. That’s the highest share of students not returning for their sophomore year since 2012, and experts worry the numbers will grow larger as thousands more students leave college, some because of mental health issues, others for financial or family reasons.
I would love to know how this trend has impacted your college. What are you seeing in terms of persistence and retention? Reply directly to this email with your thoughts.
Enrollment is up at some HBCUs — including North Carolina A&T
North Carolina A&T is one higher education institution that is bucking the national enrollment declines:
The latest growth, of 6 percent since 2019, is all the more notable because it occurred during the coronavirus pandemic as many colleges and universities around the country were struggling to recruit and retain students.
For the full story from the Washington Post, click here. This good news comes against the backdrop of the horrifying trend of bomb threats on HBCU campuses across the country. Several North Carolina HBCUs have been targeted in recent months.
These Community Colleges are Working to Bring Adults Back to Campus
The Center on Education & Labor at New America has partnered with six community colleges across the country on a pilot project designed to re-enroll adult learners.
One discovery they highlighted is worth mentioning:
[The] critical importance of this work is summarized in the words of the Vice President of a college in the cohort: “Adult learners’ needs are extensive and we rarely have the resources to meet their needs. Whatever we can do to increase those resources, we will increase the success of our students, and the success and lives of our community members. That will lead to multi-generational increases in educational attainment.”
For more details on what they have discovered so far, click here.