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‘A special place in my heart.’ CCCC President Lisa Chapman on going home — and on community colleges’ challenges and hope.

“I was working in Raleigh, serving 58, and sharing the great work of 58, but always keeping an eye on one college that had a special place in my heart,” Central Carolina Community College President Lisa Chapman said with a smile when I asked her about going home.

Chapman began her academic career at Central Carolina — and lived nearby, in Sanford, throughout her tenure at the NC Community College system office in Raleigh. Central Carolina’s service area comprises Chatham, Harnett, and Lee counties. As of 2019, it served more than 15,000 students.

Chapman, as we chatted recently for our Awake58 podcast, expressed pride in the broad support for the school. Here’s one example she shared:

“Our three counties have invested in their high school students by saying, ‘We believe in you — and we’re going to support your education.’ And they have supported the Central Carolina Promise, which allows students who go through the dual enrollment program successfully to qualify for two years tuition covered after high school. … (This is) a great opportunity to reduce debt — or be debt-free — after you complete a postsecondary credential.”

Chapman’s return home, however, has come during what she calls “one year and a pandemic.”

Our interview touches on threats to the college’s budget from enrollment decline during the pandemic and the other challenges of meeting the human needs of students, faculty, and staff.

Chapman also points out signs of hope. Preliminary data show six times as much interest in participating in the college’s programs as her team saw last fall, she says.

Give the interview a listen below.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.