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What role will community colleges play moving forward?

A note from us

Welcome to Awake58!  If you were forwarded this newsletter, please click here to subscribe.

We recap Pam Eddinger and the Dallas Herring Lecture… A-B Tech’s John Gossett won the I.E. Ready Distinguished Leader Award… Carteret CC plays to their regional strength and sense of place according to our feature on the college…

Our colleagues at the NC State Belk Center host the Dallas Herring Lecture annually. The guest speaker each year speaks to a topic of concern for the entire community college community. This year’s speaker Pam Eddinger, the president of Bunker Hill Community College in Massachusetts, tackled the topic of the role of community colleges during the pandemic and the current awakening around race.

My colleague Molly Osborne documented the lecture:

Eddinger used the metaphor of a lightning bolt to describe how the pandemic exposed decades of systemic inequities. Yet she said the pandemic also showed the capacity for community colleges to “become holistic, equity-minded institutions that promote community engagement, economic mobility, and ultimately, social equity.”

“Like a flash of lightning in the night, the pandemic revealed all the cracks and fissures hidden in the landscape and gave us a stark and unsparing look at the cavernous wealth and attainment gap before us in our Black and Brown urban communities, in the immigrant communities, and in our poor white communities in rural regions.” – Dr. Pam Eddinger

For the rest of Molly’s takeaways from the lecture, click here for the story.

As we look ahead to next year, I am curious to know what you think of the role of the community college, particularly as it relates to Eddinger’s point that the pandemic has led to colleges becoming even more central to their community. “Maybe college education is no longer a standalone,” Eddinger said. “We are the social and education hub for our communities.”

Do you see the potential for your college to be even more of a hub for your local community moving forward? Let me know what you see as the future of your college. Reply directly to this email or text COLLEGE to 73224.

This newsletter will take next week off for Thanksgiving, but we’ll be back the following week. We hope that you have a lovely holiday. Please stay safe!


Nation Hahn

Head of Growth,


EdNC reads

A-B Tech’s John Gossett wins the I.E. Ready Distinguished Leader Award

The I.E. Ready Distinguished Leader Award, which honors an N.C. State University graduate for exceptional leadership in the community college system, was presented to A-B Tech president John Gossett during the Dallas Herring Lecture as well.

I was able to catch up with Gossett after he won the award. I asked him when he “knew” he wanted to be a community college president:

“I’m not sure there ever was one striking moment when I decided I wanted to be a president. It was an evolving process as I had opportunities throughout my career.

“Ken Boham, a mentor and friend, once told me something that has stuck with me over the years. When I asked Ken for some insight about a particular job, Ken said (in only the way Ken can), ‘What are you waiting for?’ As close as any, that comment from someone who is doing the job of president believed I can do it too.”

Our warmest congratulations to John for the award!

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Driven by its coastal location, Carteret Community College seeks to become a hub for the community

Molly Osborne recently traveled to Carteret Community College. Her piece explores the ways the college has been shaped by the 60-mile long coastal county they serve. As Molly notes in her piece: “Unsurprisingly, tourism is a major driver of business and industry in the region. Ten of the top 25 largest employers in the county are in either retail trade or accommodation and food services. Other industry is closely tied to the water, including boat building and aquaculture.”

Molly’s conversation with Carteret CC president Tracy Mancini was wide-ranging and explored the ways that Carteret has been shaped by their location — including how they are dealing with the effects of Hurricane Florence and how the length of the county makes it difficult for faculty and students to commute to campus.

Carteret has big plans for the future, including a shoreline nature trail and a new culinary center that they believe will bring more community members to the school. They also just received a federal grant to build digital access points across the county so more students can access online courses. For more specifics on their plan for the future, check out Molly’s full piece by clicking below.

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We need your feedback! is turning 6, and we are thinking about our work and our impact in North Carolina. How are we doing? What changes or improvements would you like to see? We would like to hear from you as we continue to cover our state’s community colleges.

Let us know what you think in this short survey. Your responses will inform our work moving forward.

And, if you leave your name and email in the final question, you’ll have a chance to receive one of 5 $10 Amazon gift cards. Thank you!

We need your thoughts

Around NC

myFutureNC just announced all 58 NC community colleges have now endorsed the 2 million by 2030 attainment goal. Bill Carver, interim president of the North Carolina Community College System, declared in a release from MFNC, “The 58 community colleges are proud to support myFutureNC. Nearly 700,000 students a year take advantage of programs at any point in life — from Career and College Promise high school dual enrollment, to associate degree and transfer degree programs, to short-term workforce preparation. Together, we will achieve this goal: helping more students and adult learners attain careers through relevant and flexible opportunities.”

ICYMI, a note from my colleague Kaidyn Radford: Are you a community college student, faculty member, or administrator interested in sharing your educational journey? I’d love to hear from you! I am producing a new podcast dedicated to lifting up the stories of community college students from all walks of life to better understand educational equity and the experiences of those in the community college system right now. If you’re interested in being a part of this series, please email Kaidyn Radford at [email protected] with a short bio and the name of your community college!

Ferrel Guillory has a perspective out looking at President-elect Biden’s education agenda. One element he shared that might be of interest to you: “To create pathways to jobs, the Biden platform would extend the Pell Grant program to assist high school students’ move into community colleges.”

Surry Community College has three students on the NC Latinx 20 under 20 list.

Wake Tech has launched an esports team with big ambitions.

Other higher education reads

Is This The End of College As We Know It?

The Wall Street Journal is out with a piece asking: “Is this the end of college as we know it? The author argues that critical mass is building around credentials and certifications that are industry recognized. 

A worrying trend this fall: decline in FAFSA applications

One concerning trend to monitor: “The FAFSA application window opened on Oct. 1, and as of Oct. 23, about 492,000 FAFSA completions had been filed from the high school class of 2021 – 16 percent fewer completions than this time last year for the class of 2020, according to the National College Attainment Network.”

Jill Biden will be the first first lady to work full time

The19th spotlights Jill Biden’s work at Northern Virginia Community College — and her intent to keep working throughout her husband’s term.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.