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A look at proposed performance goals for the system president

A note from us

Hi, Nation and Emily here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed last week’s newsletter featuring a spotlight on the early college summit and more, you may find it by clicking here.

The State Board of Community Colleges discussed potential goals for NCCCS President Jeff Cox last week… The state’s budget process seems like it may stretch deeper into summer… The 2023 Financial Aid Summit happened last week and previewed some big changes to the process… Two finalists were approved for the Alamance Community College presidential search… 

Good morning — and happy Tuesday.

The State Board of Community Colleges met last week to discuss potential performance goals for newly minted system President Jeff Cox. Hannah covered the meeting and her write-up can be found here. The goals will be approved at the next board meeting in July. Read her full piece for more detail, but the four overarching goals can be summarized as follows:

  • Direct strategic plan initiatives. Specifically, Cox and the system office are tasked with developing and updating the funding model. The goal is for a new model to be proposed that would help scale system workforce capacity and provide a sustainability plan for rural colleges.
  • Strengthen the system office team and structure — including reducing the amount of vacancies.
  • Engage crucial constituencies and stakeholders across the system and state.
  • Facilitate marketing, branding, and communications initiatives for the good of the system.

These are big goals for Cox and his team. The funding model is a particularly complex lift.

The Board also approved two interim president finalists for the Alamance Community College vacancy. Those finalists will be announced at a later date. The State Board also finalized a paid parental leave policy.

Last week also included the state’s first-ever Financial Aid Summit. School district financial aid leaders and partner organizations from across the state convened to discuss strategies around increasing postsecondary attainment and students completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Event organizers also shared upcoming changes to the FAFSA and a new consolidated scholarship for the state.

This is the first big FAFSA redesign in 40 years. Some of the changes that will take effect the upcoming award year  (2024-25) include:

  • Delayed FAFSA opening. The application for the 2024-25 award year will not open until sometime in December 2023.
  • Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will now be called Student Aid Index (SAI).
  • Federal Pell Grant eligibility expected to increase.
  • A streamlined form – taking the questions from over 100 to around 30 to 40.

You can read the full piece here, which also has updates about North Carolina’s new consolidated scholarship program.

We’re taking a brief mid-summer break and pausing Awake58. We will return in mid-July. In the meantime, be sure to check out and subscribe to EdDaily for any breaking news from the legislature.

Be sure to send us links to your college’s press releases.

We’ll see you out on the road,

Nation & Emily

EdNC reads

State Board of Community Colleges discusses goals for new system president

The board first identified a need to set goals for the system president in December 2021 and January 2022, when Stith was still president. This year’s goals were developed largely from the system’s four-year strategic plan, said board member Mark Merritt, which was approved last October.

“This is an ambitious set of goals,” Russell said. “I don’t think any of us looking at this set could say, ‘Oh, this is what President Cox should accomplish in the first year.’ But certainly we want to see progress being made specifically in these areas.”

The list of goals will come back to the Board for approval in July, Russell said, along with evaluation guidelines and any edits from the full Board. Such guidelines will include metrics for how to assess work toward the goals, specifically with relation to any performance-based compensation or bonus for Cox.

“The exact tool that’s used and the metrics that are used will look different because these goals are different than ones we set for President Stith,” Board Chair Burr Sullivan said of the presidential evaluation process. “But it is going to be a process that the entire board is involved with and the governance committee will oversee that.”

Sullivan added that “there are a lot of blue skies over our community colleges” with Cox and other system leaders at the helm.

Cox, who gave his first president’s report at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, thanked the Board for giving him this opportunity.

“The longer I’m here, the more I see that we really have a lot of good things going,” he said. “And of course, I’m beginning to pick up some areas where I think we can streamline things and get even better.”

For other news from the meeting, including several personnel shifts, click here.

FAFSA is changing and N.C. has a new scholarship program – here’s what you need to know

Finances are personal. It’s not always an easy subject to talk about, but finances and paying for college are at the forefront for many families.

At this year’s first-ever Financial Aid Summit, leaders gathered to discuss how they could guide students as they choose their postsecondary path and help them navigate the process of filling out the FAFSA.

The summit included updates to the FAFSA – results of legislation passed in 2020 to overhaul financial aid. Attendees also heard about North Carolina’s new consolidated scholarship program that combines three public sector grants into one. The consolidation is part of a set of recommendations from a 2018 state-wide study.

Beyond FAFSA updates, scholarship consolidation, and current research, attendees heard from leaders and students across the state as they shared their own journey with regards to financial aid and financial literacy.

As event organizers reiterated, “We’re all in this together.”

And togetherness is often found and strengthened when you step out and share your story. That’s what several speakers did during the summit.

A community college president shared her story of earning a G.E.D., the shame she carried as a result, and a chance encounter in a grocery store check-out line that would lead her to college. That same story included bad financial advice that had her repaying a year of student loans and no degree to show for it.

Former student Nayleny Banda told the audience how she sought help from a community member as she navigated financial aid.  “I challenge you all to continue to learn new ways of advocating and creating change for your students and for your community. It only takes one caring adult to make a difference in a student’s life.”

So what did we learn?

It can be a scary and confusing process without someone trustworthy guiding you along the way.

In many ways, that was the goal of the summit – creating a space for school leaders and partner organizations to share ideas and strategize about ways to be guides for students so they can unlock financial aid but also find their path toward postsecondary attainment.

Read the full story here, which also includes resources to help navigate the financial aid process.

Visits to Hyde, Dare, and Martin counties

Nation here. I had the opportunity to travel to Hyde, Dare, and Martin counties this past week to visit with the community leaders in all three counties.

In Hyde, community members walked us through the challenges (and opportunities!) of being a community with a significant amount of water, spread out population, and more than 500 residents of the county living on Ocracoke Island. We also heard a lot about the stress on the foster care system as the opioid epidemic rages. Beaufort County Community College President Dave Loope helped organize our visit.

We then traveled to Dare where we heard about the College of The Albemarle serving as a catalyst for community action on health, including combatting opioids and promoting heart health through a novel “Dare to Care” effort. COA President Jack Bagwell helped pull together the key stakeholders and facilitated the visit on their Dare County campus.

On the final stop of our two day swing, Martin Community College President Wesley Beddard provided us with an opportunity to explore the equine program at the college. We were able to hear more about their workforce development efforts — including their electrical linesman work and their Career in a Year effort aimed at adult learners. We also discussed the attempted revival of downtown Williamston, the work being done to build on the county’s natural assets, and more.

We stopped at Cakes by Becky on the way out of town at the recommendation of Beddard’s team — and I can 100% recommend you visit the lovely bakery whenever you have a chance in the future.

Around NC

A look at this Lenoir Community College graduate’s success story and how the Workforce Innovation Act Program helped.

Catawba Valley Community College’s Supply Chain Management Academy celebrated its first graduates on June 22.

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and East Tennessee State University are partnering to allow a seamless transition from A-B Tech’s associate of applied science in human services technology program to ETSU’s bachelor of science in human services program.

Pitt Community College’s bid for reaffirmation of accreditation was recently approved. Read more here.

The Golden LEAF Foundation announced 215 rural North Carolina students were selected to receive up to a $14,000 Golden LEAF Scholarship. Two of those students are from Stanly County.

Blue Ridge Community College’s Educational Foundation honored eight community members during its 2023 Community Ambassador Program event.

The Belk Center released a newsletter highlighting their “Spring Season in Review.”

The latest Census shows a 3.5 percentage point increase in North Carolina’s educational attainment rate in three years.  You can read more from myFutureNC about the increase here. 

The Hunt Institute will host a webinar that focuses on supporting the mental health and educational needs of LGBTQ+ students. The virtual event is scheduled for June 27 at 2 p.m. EST. Register here. 

LatinxEd is hosting their annual Latinx Education Summit on Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday, Sept. 16th at Greensboro-High Point Marriott Airport Hotel. Find more details here. 

Other higher education reads

Pell Grant eligibility for students in prisons to be reinstated in July

From the EdSource article:

For the first time in nearly three decades, people incarcerated nationwide will have expanded access to the federal Pell Grant on July 1 to help pay for the cost of college education programs.

“From a purely symbolic perspective, it’s incredibly powerful … that we are trying to find ways to give them the resources to succeed,” said Keramet Reiter, director of the first University of California bachelor’s program for students in prison.

While Pell Grant eligibility will widen beginning July 1, significant barriers will remain for incarcerated students and educators alike as they navigate the complex set of regulations that programs must follow for their students to receive federal grants.

You can read the full article here. 

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is the Director of Postsecondary Attainment for EducationNC.