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Former Nash Community College President Bill Carver was named interim president of the North Carolina Community College system by the State Board of Community Colleges on Friday.

He takes over for Peter Hans, who is leaving to head up the University of North Carolina system.

“I wholeheartedly commend your selection of Dr. Carver,” Hans told the Board in the meeting, adding: “His abilities and experience are only exceeded by his great sense of humor. So I really anticipate the easiest and smoothest of transitions.”

Carver retired as president of Nash Community College in 2019, where he spent more than three decades. He started working at the college in 1987 as the small business center director, according to a press release from Nash Community College. He went on to serve as director of business and industry services, dean of continuing education, and vice president for instruction. He served as the college’s fourth president from 2005 until his retirement in 2019. According to the press release, during his time as president, the college had consistent enrollment increases, bucking the then-trend of declining enrollment in the community college system.

Friday’s Board meeting was also Hans’ last as president of the system.

“It has been a great privilege to be a small part of the work accomplished here over the last two and a half years,” he said, adding later: “You can count on me to be the very best partner and ally moving forward.”

Board members also made remarks about their time working with Hans.

Board member William Holder said he couldn’t let the moment pass without giving his gratitude to Hans.

“He has been no small part of the success that the community college system has enjoyed over the last couple of years,” he said.

Board member Bob Stephens said he is happy that Hans is moving to the UNC System, “which needs all the help that I think that he can give.”

“What he has done for the community college system cannot be overstated,” he said.

Initiative on diversity

The State Board of Community Colleges also heard about a new System Advisory Council Initiative on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

In the memo above, Hans appointed as co-leaders of the initiative Thomas Walker, president of Wayne Community College, and Don Tomas, president of Southwestern Community College. He also wrote about the ways in which community colleges are “an exemplar” of diversity, while saying that more work needs to be done.

“However, recent events have underlined that we have more work to do. We must ensure that colleges not only have diversity but celebrate it, that we tear down any existing systemic barriers, and that we create an environment where every member of our community is treated equally, with respect. To that end, I am appointing you as co-leaders of a new System Advisory Council Initiative on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” he wrote.

Hans went on to say that the initiative will identify both institutional and policy inequities that limit opportunities for students, faculty, and staff, and find ways to deal with them, as well as come up with guidelines for community colleges to use in looking at their own policies.

“This initiative is critically important for all of us,” he said during the Board meeting.

In the video below, you can hear Hans talk about equity.

Rural broadband

The State Board also approved $9 million in federal COVID-19 recovery funds to use in developing broadband for rural areas of the state.

“This is an item to address our most challenged rural areas of the state to enhance and support college broadband,” said Elizabeth Grovenstein, chief financial officer for the community college system, during the Board meeting.

The money will be used “to deliver critical, college specific IT infrastructure and network security improvements for 20 colleges serving students at campuses in our system’s most rural and economically challenged regions.”

In addition, another $500,000 in state money will be used for network and engineering services for those colleges.

Roanoke-Chowan

Roanoke-Chowan Community College has been in trouble with its accreditation agency for more than a year now, and is the only community college in the state that is on probation. Read about that here.

Interim President Audre Levy was steering the college through its difficulties, but she was scheduled to depart in June, and there was a lot of concern about what would happen once she was gone.

The State Board of Community Colleges voted to install Deborah Lamm as interim president of the college effective Monday, July 20. She is a former president of Edgecombe Community College.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.