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Where does the funding model go from here?

A note from us

Nation here with another edition of Awake58. If you missed the last edition of Awake58 featuring our annual impact survey, you may find it on our website.

This is the final week of our impact survey… The State Board of Community Colleges met to discuss the funding formula and more… Davidson-Davie Community College named Jenny Varner as their fifth president… 

I hope that you had a relaxing Thanksgiving with your family. I had the good fortune of spending a few quiet days with family and friends.

This has been a big year in the community college space for us at EdNC. We covered the search for a new system president, all of the State Board of Community College meetings, and innovative approaches to serving adult students. As we reflect on the year, we would love for you to spend a few minutes taking our annual impact survey if you have not already done so. As a reminder, five participants will be selected at random for a gift card.

You can take the survey on our website.

The State Board of Community Colleges met the week before Thanksgiving to discuss updating the funding formula, swear in three new members of the Board, and discuss the process for filling several college presidential vacancies.

The Board also approved Jenny Varner as the fifth president of Davidson-Davie Community College. Varner had been serving as acting president since Darrin Hartness passed away earlier in the year.

“I have been so fortunate to have worked side-by-side with the most dedicated colleagues and board members for the last 15 years as we focused on the education and success of our students and the Davidson and Davie communities,” Varner said in a release from the college. “And now, together, we have a 60-year legacy to uphold as we honor the past, build on our successes, and chart the future of this amazing college.”

We expect more updates on the various college president vacancies and the search processes at the December state Board meeting.

I’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Chief of Growth,

EdNC reads

State Board discusses community college funding model, budget allocations

The State Board of Community Colleges met the week before Thanksgiving.

A major topic of conversation was the system’s work to modernize the funding formula. The current funding formula hasn’t been revised since 2013. This matters in large part because the majority of funding for each college comes from state appropriations.

Our recap from the Board meeting has an overview of the conversation.

The system’s current state funding model allocates resources to the colleges in proportion to the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students they enroll in each of their programs.

The majority of state funding falls into the instructional category and is distributed using a formula based on FTE student enrollment. One FTE is equivalent to 512 hours of instruction. Colleges are funded in arrears, meaning they receive funding based on the higher of the current year’s FTE or an average of the previous two years.

Certain courses receive more state funds than others based on a four-tiered funding model.

The workgroup is proposing to change the current FTE tiers to “workforce sectors,” to move toward a labor-market driven model of community college programs. Under this model, all curriculum and continuing education (CE) courses would reside in the same workforce sector. A nursing curriculum and nursing CE course would be funded the same way, for example.

The sectors largely focus on health care, technology, and trades. Courses not on this list would be held harmless, the workgroup said said, and retain their same value, just not labeled as tiers. There would be another catch-all “sector” for transfer and general education courses.

The state Board also approved a number of budget allocations, and discussed changes to the accreditation process due to legislative provisions.

The Board also swore in three new Board members: “Those new members include Paula Benson, director of advocacy group Wilson Forward, Raleigh developer John Kane, and business leader Geoffrey Lang. Each of the new members has previous experience serving on education boards. Their terms expire June 30, 2025.”

The state Board also approved Jenny Varner as the new president for Davidson-Davie Community College.

The system is looking for four other community college presidents, at Alamance Community College, Martin Community College, McDowell Technical Community College, and Wilkes Community College. We expect more updates on those searches throughout December.

2023 Dallas Herring Lecture focuses on opportunities of change for community colleges

The 9th annual Dallas Herring Lecture was held on Tuesday, Nov. 14. Prince George’s Community College President Dr. Falecia D. Williams challenged community college leaders “to dare to be extraordinary” in her remarks. Hannah’s recap captured Dr. Williams’ keynote address.

Williams, who gave the keynote address of the lecture, discussed strategies for community college leaders as they think about the lasting impacts of the pandemic on their institutions.

“Today, we stand at a crossroads, faced with the profound question: ‘Did the COVID-19 pandemic act as a catastrophe or a catalyst for change?’” Williams said. “This question looms large, especially in the realm of higher education, and community colleges find themselves at the heart of this dilemma.”

Whether planned or unexpected, Williams said that change has a profound impact on our individual and collective journeys. She specifically noted the impact of the pandemic on community college enrollment and funding.

In North Carolina, most community colleges never fully shut down during the pandemic. The introduction of remote and hybrid learning — along with the challenges faced by their students — forced many of the colleges to approach learning with more flexibility, responsiveness, and innovation.

While change can bring challenges, Williams also said it brings the opportunity for innovation — if we are willing to let go of stability and how things have been done in the past.

“Community colleges must navigate an unprecedented transition,” she said. “Despite these challenges, it falls upon us as the leaders and the practitioners to declare that the pandemic was more of a catalyst for transformation than a harbinger of our downfall.”

Durham Technical Community College President J.B. Buxton delivered one of the two North Carolina responses.

Buxton highlighted the state motto, “Esse Quam Videri” — which means, “To be, rather than to seem” — as a great motto for the state’s community colleges as well.

Community colleges must help their students cross the finish line, he said, while also helping connect students to careers that build stability, mobility, and generational wealth.

“It is our job to ensure the romance of the community college is in fact the reality,” he said. “Because in the end — after all the speeches — what speaks last and loudest is not what we say we are, but what the success of our students and communities reveals us to be.”

Haywood Community College President Dr. Shelley White focused on the role of community colleges in building rural resilience.

Throughout her response, White referenced the college’s recent work to provide hope in the community after the March announcement of the Canton mill’s closure.

“I believe we are the anchors,” White said. “Anchors for our communities in times of crisis and opportunity.”

“Community colleges are the heart of our rural communities, and we are called to meet changing needs,” White said. “We are called to be prepared to the best of times and in times of crisis. The rural response is critical for our future.”

Hannah’s recap highlights additional resources and context from each speaker.

Eligibility for Pell Grants to expand for many students after changes to FAFSA

More students will be eligible to receive Pell Grants under the upcoming updates to the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form which is expected to be released by Dec. 31 after a delay, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Laura’s article recaps the expected outcomes:

In North Carolina, a total of 16,489 more students will be eligible for Federal Pell Grants while a total of 45,852 more students will be eligible for the maximum Pell Grant, according to the DOE.

The new FAFSA changes include updates to student aid calculations that will guarantee more student eligibility for Pell Grants.

Along with these updates, starting in the 2023-24 award year, incarcerated students are also eligible for Federal Pell Grants and some students will get lifetime eligibility for Federal Pell Grants restored if their school misled them or closed while they were enrolled.

The updates to the FAFSA form include fewer questions for families to fill out. The changes come after congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act to streamline the often lengthy process that goes along with applying for financial aid for college.

“When students and families fill out the better FAFSA form, they will find that applying for college financial aid is simpler, easier, and faster than ever before,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

Surry Community College toasts diversity in wine industry

Surry Community College has become an important hub for the viticulture industry in North Carolina. They recently hosted the annual Southeastern Grape and Wine Symposium at the college’s Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology.

One of the many topics addressed at this year’s symposium was promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), especially for wine industries and their branding and events.

Crista Guebert, co-owner of Golden Road Vineyards, was one of the symposium’s featured speakers on DEI, and emphasized the impact diversity within the wine industry can have on reaching diverse consumers.

“People buy wine from people that look like them,” Guebert said.

Also, having a diverse workforce can make for a better overall customer experience, she added.

“If you start to say, ‘Now we can enhance the experience for everybody, there’s room in this industry for everybody,’ then that’s exactly what you’re looking for here,” she said.

Guebert said school is a great place to start when making space for diverse groups of people in the wine industry.

Sarah Bowman, instructor of viticulture at Surry Community College, said the school also works toward inclusion by meeting students where they are and teaching to all levels.

Bowman said they are always looking for the next generation of grape growers and winemakers, but that isn’t limited to a specific age.

Around NC

The N.C. Community Colleges State Board Awards Committee meets today at 4 p.m. to review the 2024 Staff of the Year award candidates.

This was a good listen from the Institute for Emerging Issues Connector Podcast: “IEI Director Sarah Hall speaks with MDC Vice President of Partnerships and Programs Calvin Allen and MDC Program Director Kathryn Gaasch about navigating conflict during the holidays.”

Bellwether finalists will compete for the 2024 Bellwether Award at the 30th Annual Community College Futures Assembly, (CCFA) according to a Nov. 15 release. Three N.C. community colleges were among the 30 finalists announced across three categories: “Finalists in the Workforce Development category, which identifies strategic alliances that promote community and economic development include Cleveland Community College and Gaston College. Stanly Community College is a finalist in the Planning, Governance, and Finance category, which recognizes programs or activities that improve college efficiency and effectiveness.”

Central Piedmont Community College was recently honored as the Workforce Development Community Partner of the Year as part of the Minority Enterprise Development Awards.

Haywood Community College announced that the Blue Ridge Orchestra holiday concert will be held on their campus on Dec. 9. The proceeds from the ticket sales will support the Haywood Strong scholarship, providing scholarships to displaced millworkers and their families, according to a release from the college.

Surry Community College published a fun feature spotlighting several students who discussed how the college prepared them for the next steps in their journey toward STEM degrees and careers.

Wake Technical Community College announced the Tennie Group LLC as the 100th employer partner in the WakeWorks Apprenticeship program in November.

Wayne Community College celebrated National Apprenticeship Week (Nov. 13–19) with a visit from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, according to a release from the college. The Governor also announced the launch of the Southeastern Education and Economic Development (SEED) initiative: “Youth apprenticeship programs offer students the opportunity to jump-start their careers while still in high school. Students accepted into the SEED program will begin their pre-apprenticeship program as 11th or 12th graders, taking community college classes, participating in paid work-based learning, and having access to mentors in the company sponsoring their work-based learning experience.”

Other higher education reads

College leaders refocus attention on their students’ top priority: Jobs after graduation

This article from the Hechinger Report focuses on a newfound push amongst four-year colleges to refocus on career centers and career advisors. We found this article interesting because recently a reader wrote in to ask if we had seen any of our community colleges launching unified career centers. As you read this article, we would love for you to let us know of any approaches like a career center on campus that we should be tracking moving forward.

After a two-year planning process, Brown University has revamped and renamed its career center and is more than doubling its number of advisers, from 13 to 28.

It’s an example of the new attention being devoted to career services by universities — even top universities, whose students likely won’t have trouble finding jobs — as consumer demand gets louder for a tangible return on investment for a degree.

At a time of intensifying competition for students, “career success” is the top reason people give for getting a degree, a new survey of alumni by the workforce analytics firm Lightcast found.

That’s driving institutions to beef up career services staffs and budgets, promote career directors to the highest levels of leadership and start offering career advising to students from the time they put down their first-year deposits.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.