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Your guide to North Carolina's community colleges

A note from us

Hello, Emily here. If you missed last week’s Awake58 edition, you can read it by clicking here.

A guide to N.C.’s 58 community colleges… An update on how the community college system spent COVID-19 funding… The system’s funding request and a recap of joint education appropriations meeting… Leadership lessons from Dr. Darrin Hartness… A profile on a Wayne Community College mechatronics instructor… The search for the next N.C. Community College System president continues…

Last week, we looked at the cost of under-resourcing the state’s community colleges, along with teaching and learning hubs – a new professional development model for faculty.

In this week’s edition, we’ve included a comprehensive guide to North Carolina’s 58 community community colleges. Hannah covers funding, tuition, and governance structure, to name just a few important topics. We also have a recap from last week’s joint education appropriations meeting where the system presented their $232 million request for increased state funding.

“The legislative agenda impact is truly around expanding college capacity in these two main areas – student investment and employee investment,” Brandy Andrews, NCCCS vice president and chief financial officer, told lawmakers on Feb. 28.

Hannah also shared an update from another joint education appropriations meeting last week.

“Last Thursday, March 2, NCCCS Vice President Brandy Andrews updated lawmakers on how the system spent its COVID-19 funding. Andrews is also chief financial officer of the system. She outlined the four allocation buckets the NCCCS received:

  1. Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) of ~$80 million
  2. Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) of $850 million
  3. Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) of $85 million total, and
  4. State Fiscal Recovery Fund (SFRF) of $146 million.

As of June 30, there was about $172 million of HEERF money remaining, and $26.9 million remaining of the second round of GEER funds for student grants. One lawmaker asked how much of those funds were still remaining and if they could be redirected to community colleges in any way; Andrews said she would look into getting updated data. You can view the presentation here.”

Be sure to also check out this piece about Wayne Community College instructor Bobby McArthur and how he is training students for the future in mechatronics.

The Presidential Search Committee also met last week with Buffkin/Baker, the national vendor hired to help find the next system president. The committee moved to closed session and remained in closed session for more than 5 hours.

Finally, we hope you’ll take a moment and read this article about Dr. Darrin Hartness, president of Davidson-Davie Community College. Mebane highlights his leadership and how Hartness views relationships and service.

With gratitude –

Emily Thomas

Policy Analyst –


EdNC reads

Your guide to North Carolina’s 58 community colleges

Hannah’s article tackles everything from explaining the structure of North Carolina’s community college system to how the colleges are funded to expectations for the 2023-25 biennium.

The mission of the system is “to open the door to high-quality, accessible educational opportunities that minimize barriers to post-secondary education, maximize student success, develop a globally and multi-culturally competent workforce, and improve the lives and well-being of individuals.”

For some students, those open doors look like a high school diploma. For others, an open door is a short-term workforce credential or university transfer degree. NCCCS students consistently account for the majority of transfer students into the UNC System, Stephen Bailey, a staffer of the legislature’s Fiscal Research Division, told lawmakers at the Feb. 16 meeting.

Other “open doors” include certificates, apprenticeships, technical degrees, and more.

Click here for the full guide.

N.C. Community College System leaders present $232 million request to lawmakers

Last week, NCCCS leaders presented the system’s request for increased state funding over the next two years.

N.C. Community College System (NCCCS) leaders presented the system’s $232 million request for increased state funding over the next two years to lawmakers at a joint education appropriations meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

The system’s updated fiscal year 2022-25 legislative agenda seeks increases in employee salaries and student investment – $86.8 million in funding for a 7% salary increase for faculty and staff, and $145.88 million for student investment. You can read EdNC’s report on the system’s legislative priorities here.

For the full recap of that meeting click here.

This Wayne Community College instructor is preparing students for the future in mechatronics

EdNC’s Alex Granados met with Wayne Community College instructor Bobby McArthur to find out how he is preparing students for the future in mechatronics.

Sometimes we measure economic impact on a grand scale — effects on the town, community, state, or even country. But sometimes, we measure on a more granular level — the impact on a person.

Bobby McArthur is a perfect example of that. His professional journey begins and ends with Wayne Community College, where he currently serves as the school’s mechatronics lead instructor.

As part of that, one of the things McArthur teaches students is robotics, which he thinks is one of the most important skills needed in America.

“Robotics is going to be a huge thing moving forward,” he said. “If we’re ever going to take our place back as a manufacturing giant and beat China out, we have to automate.”

And it’s going to take community colleges training workers on these kinds of skills to make that happen. He tries to make sure his classes are hands-on.

Click here to read the full piece.

Darrin Hartness is all about relationships

Mebane shares leadership lessons from Dr. Darrin Hartness, president of Davidson-Davie Community College. She talks about his views on relationships, service, economic development, and more. Plus, leaders from across the state share their reflections on Hartness’ leadership.

Darrin Hartness has always been an educator. He has served as a vocational teacher, principal, chief technology officer, assistant superintendent, superintendent, and is now president of Davidson-Davie Community College.

Regardless of his role, he told us, “It’s really all about relationships.”

As an educator, in all of his roles, Hartness has watched students get through high school and take that next step. “To be part of that experience,” he said, “of watching them go into a career or a job that is going to make their life better and better for their family has been very powerful for me.”

It has been his privilege, he said, “to witness on a daily basis the dedication, innovation, and caring nature of our students, faculty, and staff.”

For those around Hartness, it has been our privilege to witness on a daily basis his dedication, his innovation, and his caring not just for his students, faculty, and staff, but for the communities he serves, our state, and the world we all call home.

His hope for a better future is our own.

You can read the full story here. 


Around NC

Check out this EdNC perspective piece highlighting the history and diversity among North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Border Belt Independent published a profile on Robeson Community College President Melissa Singler – “How a high school dropout is leading a rural NC community college through major growth.”

In this EdNC perspective from Andrea Poole, executive director of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority, Poole shares how the state helps students pay for college. 

Wake Tech IGNITE held its annual event last week. The event showcases the college and its mission to transform lives. 

Lineups for community college music festivals are rolling out. You can find artist and ticket information for Wilkes Community College’s MerleFest here. Check out information about the Earl Scruggs Music Festival – hosted in partnership with Isothermal Community Collegehere.  And read EdNC’s most recent articles about the festivals: MerleFest and Earl Scruggs Music Festival. 

Brunswick Community College announced it will offer a dental assisting program, starting in fall 2023.

Students in Johnston Community College’s first practical nursing cohort had a 100% pass rate

Wayne Community College’s Renaissance magazine (and its contributors) recently won regional and national awards. 

Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute will host author Ron Rash at the 2023 Laurette LePrevost Writers Symposium. 

Southeastern Community College students made history last week, joining the first apprenticeship program in Columbus County. Four students made commitments to join Columbus Regional Healthcare System as apprentices. 

Other higher education reads

More Students Will Leave Prison With College Credit. Are Colleges Ready?

This Chronicle piece takes an in-depth look at prison education programs and life after prison. From the article:

Critics say too many programs end at the prison gate.

There are clear links between education and recidivism, with college graduates far less likely to return to prison than those without degrees. Completing college, post-incarceration, correlates with higher wages and lower unemployment rates.

Yet a majority of prison-ed programs aren’t doing much to support their students when they get out. Of the 374 prison-ed programs surveyed by the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison in the 2019-20 academic year, less than one in five offered direct pathways to a campus program, and even fewer — 14 percent — provided re-entry services. Among those that did, the most common supports were admission and financial-aid counseling, a 2021 report by the Alliance showed. Fewer than 20 percent offered technology or housing support.

This topic was among the top priorities during this year’s Institute for Emerging Issues conference. You can read EdNC’s recap of the event here.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is a policy analyst for EducationNC.