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Coming soon: Update on the 2030 attainment goal

A note from us

Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58! Last week’s Awake58 lifted up STEM East’s recent Vision 2024 event and continued coverage of Propel NC.

The State Board of Community Colleges meets this week… Several community college leaders from North Carolina were part of a convening at the White House last week… National data released last week explored national and state level trends around transfer outcomes… Martin Community College formally welcomes Dr. Larry Keen as interim president…

The State Board of Community Colleges is scheduled to meet this week. During Thursday’s transformative discussion, the Board will receive an overview of Surry-Yadkin Works. The agenda also includes continued discussions on the Propel NC funding model, an update on enrollment, and more strategic planning, among other topics.

On Thursday, myFutureNC will host statewide business leaders, education leaders, philanthropists, and policymakers for a statewide update on the 2030 educational attainment goal. We expect a lot of new data from Carolina Demography. myFutureNC will host eight events across the state, and EdNC will be at a few of them. Molly will be at Roanoke-Chowan Community College, and I will be attending the event at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute.

New national data on transfer outcomes also released last week. The data revealed that our community college transfer outcomes have steadily increased over time. In most categories, the state is on par with national averages when assessing all students, Emily reported:

Dr. Audrey Jaeger, executive director of the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, said the study shows the impact of the state’s commitment to strengthening transfer, specifically highlighting the policy changes North Carolina made to the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA) in 2014.

The CAA is a “statewide agreement governing the transfer of credits between NC Community Colleges and NC public universities.” The main goal of the CAA is to provide a smooth transfer process for students.

In 2014, the North Carolina Board of Governors approved revisions to the CAA. The revised CAA included four key components meant to improve the transfer process from the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) to the University of North Carolina (UNC) System institutions. Research found that after CAA revisions, transfer students were between 5% and 13% more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree.

The remainder of Emily’s analysis can be found at

As always, we appreciate your ongoing support. Thank you for reading Awake58.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Chief of Growth —

EdNC reads

White House convenes community college presidents and provosts to discuss talent pipelines

The White House held a bipartisan convening last week focused on community colleges and their work to enhance talent pipelines into high growth industry sectors. Several North Carolina community college leaders were among those who attended, including representatives from the system office, Davidson-Davie Community CollegeEdgecombe Community College, and Forsyth Technical Community College.

Forsyth Tech President Dr. Janet Spriggs shared the following thoughts:

Even more exciting, I had the honor of representing Forsyth Tech at a listening session hosted by the Executive Office of the President of the United States, along with representatives from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor. I had the chance to discuss the great work we’re doing at Forsyth Tech to achieve our vision of being a catalyst for equitable economic mobility and to build a skilled workforce to meet the demands of businesses and industries in our state. During the session, I highlighted our successful partnerships with Winston Salem Forsyth County Schools, our efforts to educate a diverse workforce for biotechnology, our College Lift program, and our award-winning Learn and Earn Apprenticeship program (LEAP).

What do national transfer outcomes reveal, and how does North Carolina compare?

The Community College Research Center released a report looking at national and statewide data on transfer outcomes last week. Emily has an article out looking at some of the North Carolina-specific data:

North Carolina’s community college transfer outcomes have steadily increased over time. In most categories, the state is on par with national averages when assessing all students.

The study highlights North Carolina as one of a few states that has shown improvements in transfer-out rates, which are FTIC students who transfer to a four-year institution within six years of their community college entry. North Carolina had the largest increase in transfer-out rates of any state, increasing from 24% to 31% from the fall 2007 to fall 2015 community college entry cohorts.

When looking at transfer outcomes by subgroup, many of the equity gaps seen in the national data exist in the North Carolina data as well. Low-income students in North Carolina are less likely to transfer than all students, and those who transfer are less likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than all students. However, the gap between all students and low-income students in transfer-out bachelor’s completion rate is smaller in North Carolina than nationally.

When looking at the data by race/ethnicity, Black students have worse transfer outcomes than all students in North Carolina. The gaps are largest in the transfer-with-award rate and transfer-out bachelor’s completion rate, as demonstrated in the graphs below. The rate of Black students who transfer having already earned a credential or degree is much lower in North Carolina (28%) than nationally (37%).

Emily’s article has plenty of additional details and analysis of what the data shows nationally and in North Carolina.

MCC Early Adopter of Archives Initiative

Montgomery Community College’s Kelly Morgan, director of marketing and public relations, and Touger Vang, dean of learning resources, sent in the following historical perspective on MCC to be included in Awake58 this week:

In 2016, a group of North Carolina community college leaders established the North Carolina Community College Archives Association. Its purpose is to promote the establishment, development, support, and preservation of college archive and special collections within the 58 institutions of the North Carolina Community College System and to serve as a statewide voice on behalf of North Carolina community college history.

Montgomery Community College is one of the early members of the association. Touger Vang, MCC’s Dean of Learning Resources, leads MCC’s ongoing archives project, and College President Dr. Chad Bledsoe is the organization’s liaison from the NC Association of Community College Presidents. Over the past seven years, MCC has begun preserving its history, and in doing so, is fostering an awareness and appreciation for the importance, significance, and value of the college’s archives.

“We begin by defining what we believe has historical significance to the college,” explains Touger. “Once we have that understanding, we locate, group and begin preservation of the assets.”

Preservation involves the process of scanning paper records, creating digital images which can then be named and searched in an online database. MCC is building upon a partnership with DigitalNC, a project of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. The statewide digitization and digital publishing program works with cultural heritage organizations (like community colleges) across North Carolina to digitize and publish historic materials online. DigitalNC is housed in the Wilson Library at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Touger has collected thousands of pieces for the college archives dating back to the college’s founding in 1967. Items include course catalogs, newsletters, news clippings, historical documents, bulletins, bi-annual tabloids, minutes from meetings, and thousands of photos of students, staff, and the campus grounds. Where possible, Touger and his team are naming the files, timestamping them and identifying people and places. In time, MCC’s assets will become part of the statewide archives receptacle which will be searchable from anywhere in the world.

Around NC

The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges will meet this week. Details can be found below:

  • Accountability and audit committee: Virtual meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2:30-4:00 p.m. View agenda.
  • Committee meetings: Thursday, Feb. 15, starting at 11 a.m. View agenda.
  • Full Board meeting: Friday, Feb. 16 starting at 9 a.m. View agenda.

The meetings will be livestreamed on the N.C. Community College System Office YouTube channel. It is possible that some committees will move into closed session, as allowed by state law.

myFutureNC will host top government, education, business, and nonprofit leaders across North Carolina at eight simultaneous regional convenings on Thursday, Feb. 15, for The State of Educational Attainment in North Carolina. Stay tuned for more — including significant updates on attainment data. In related news, the Watauga Economic Development Commission unanimously adopted a resolution in support of myFutureNC’s goals for post-secondary degree 2030 attainment goal for Watauga County last week.

Martin Community College welcomed Dr. Larry Keen as its interim president this week.

The North Carolina Rural Center’s upcoming rural summit will be held on March 20-21. The registration deadline is approaching.

The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded $1 million to Alamance Community College to fund a new veterinary medical technician program, according to a release from the college.

Blue Ridge Community College recently released its 2022-2023 annual report. The framework for the annual report is “momentum.”

Dare County commissioners recently approved moving forward with the establishment of an early college, likely to enroll its first class in the fall of 2025, according to local news reports. In 2026, the early college would then move to a new building on the College of the Albemarle’s campus.

Students at Richmond Community College will be able to take advantage of guaranteed admission to Pfeiffer University beginning this coming fall semester, according to a release from the college. Leaders from Richmond CC and Pfeiffer signed the Pfeiffer Pact transfer agreement last week.

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has named Elbert Lassiter as its new vice president of corporate and continuing education, according to a release from the college. They are also celebrating several national awards for their marketing efforts.

Surry Community College recently profiled several first-generation college students on their website last week: “Nisa McFowler, another first-generation college student at Surry Community College describes what being a first in her family means to her, ‘Being a first-generation student requires determination and an independent spirit. You have to make your own path, without guidance.'”

Valentine’s Day is this week — and Surry Community College also shared a fun story of a romance that bloomed among two of their students.

Other higher education reads

Enrollment growth continues at community colleges

Enrollment growth across community colleges is a national trend, according to this article from

Community colleges gained 118,000 students in the fall of 2023 – a 2.6% increase – the highest growth of any sector in higher education.

That’s according to the final report on fall 2023 undergraduate enrollment from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center. The report follows up on preliminary enrollment data released in October.

Undergraduate enrollment has “finally turned the corner,” Douglas Shapiro, the center’s executive director, said in a Zoom call Tuesday with reporters. But, he added, “we’re still in a deep hole.” There are more than 1 million fewer students enrolled in postsecondary education than five years ago.

Most of the fall 2023 growth came from students continuing from last year or coming back to college after stopping out. Freshman undergraduate enrollment across all sectors grew only 0.8%. However, growth of freshman enrollment was largest at public two-year institutions at 2.6%.

EdNC will have a report on N.C. community college enrollment trends soon.

The Job: Career-Matching Hubs

WorkShift’s Paul Fain reports on Propel NC and a proposed funding and governance shift in Pennsylvania, arguing the initiatives reflect a broader “career-matching hub” conversation nationally.

Alssid and LeMoine praised the plan’s emphasis on increasing instructional capacity across credit and noncredit programs. But they say that if the proposal is approved, it will require rethinking and more funding for operational areas beyond hiring instructors.

The necessary transformation of community colleges into career-matching organizations requires more high-quality coaching, advising, and learner support structures, they say, in addition to better program design and delivery.

Efforts by two-year colleges to create credential paths that are aligned with high-demand fields can help students be more employable, including before they complete a program, says Lisa Larson, senior vice president of college transformation for the Education Design Lab.

The shift also can encourage employers to validate credentials and necessary skills up front, she says, and to make hiring requirements more visible to jobseekers. “These better practices can also help to improve economic mobility for many that do not hold a degree but have demonstrable, verifiable skills and credentials,” says Larson, a former president of Eastern Maine Community College.

According to the experts that Fain interviewed, the end goal of funding and governance shifts—such as Propel NC and the proposed model in Pennsylvania—would be to tighten connections between employers, the labor market as a whole, and community colleges.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.