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Welcome to Awake58!  If you missed the previous newsletter that examined the rise of ransomware attacks, click here. If you were forwarded this newsletter, please click here to subscribe.

The State Board of Community Colleges met last week and announced allocations from the COVID-19 relief bill… Roanoke-Chowan Community College has been removed from probation… Four community colleges in Western NC are partnering together on a unique collaboration… We spotlight the Land of Sky educational collaborative in Solution Seekers… The NCCCS presidential search process continues to unfold…

The State Board of Community Colleges met last week to tackle numerous orders of business, including allocations from the recent COVID-19 relief bill and one significant bit of news related to Roanoke-Chowan Community College. 

My colleague Alex Granados reports: “Roanoke-Chowan Community College has been removed from probation by accreditation agency Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Roanoke-Chowan was the lone institution in the state’s 58-college system on probation until its removal.”

The SACSCOC reasoning for probation included the following three failures: distinction between the Board of Trustees at the college and the administration, CEO control, and personnel appointment and evaluation.

Roanoke-Chowan is currently being led by former Edgecombe Community College president Deborah Lamm. Lamm was pressed at a recent meeting to answer the question of whether Roanoke-Chowan had a path forward. Lamm responded, “I do think it’s a viable institution and that it does have a future.”

For more information on Roanoke-Chowan, as well as details on the allocation of resources from the COVID-19 bill, click below.

We want to give a special shout out to my colleague Molly Osborne who just last week was named one of eight journalists who will serve as part of the WW Higher Education Media Fellowship. MC Belk Pilon, Chair of the John M Belk Endowment, said it best when she declared, “We are excited Molly has been selected to be an ECMC Foundation Fellow and proud that her research and leadership on community colleges and postsecondary access will make a difference in North Carolina and nationally. We look forward to this deep dive on career and technical education from this cohort of leaders at this important moment in time.”

Congratulations to Molly! We encourage you to follow her on Twitter as she continues her reporting and research. 

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth, EdNC.org

Solution Seekers: Regional alignment efforts unfold in Western NC

Garrett Hinshaw, president of Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC), and Michael Helmick, when he was president of Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC), led two institutions that sit roughly 25 minutes from each other. Hinshaw and Helmick consistently spoke about the redundancies in educational offerings between adjacent community colleges. Their conversations expanded to include Randall Burns, project manager for Innovation & Partners at WPCC; the late Mark Story, who was head of K-64; and others. 

“As a capacity builder in the region, we understand our responsibility to lead and develop partnerships that help everyone’s boats to rise in western North Carolina,” Hinshaw said recently. “We are hoping that we can work with our partners to create more clear pathways to future success and differentiate our region in the talent development arena.”

The crux of the plan is to identify areas to collaborate, rather than compete, to maximize resources and better serve students. 

Burns told us, “Students should have the opportunity, without the encumbrances of being tied to one institution, to look at the next institution and say, ‘I want to do that.’”

For the full piece, click here. We are curious to hear your thoughts on this unique collaborative approach. Will it provide a possible path forward for innovation in collaboration, serving students, and governance? Will it help bolster the conversations around funding? Email me directly to share your opinion.

The collaborative spirit in the region continued with the announcement that Gaston College and Catawba Valley Community College have teamed up to lead a new innovative partnership to manufacture medical supplies locally as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. My colleague Alli Lindenberg lays out the goals of the partnership including:

  • Providing locally made, reusable PPE for the medical community
  • Creating small business opportunities for local manufacturers
  • Helping close the workforce skills gap in the region

For more information on the partnership, including who else is involved, as well as the funding they have accumulated to date, check out Alli’s piece by clicking here.

Solution Seekers: Land of Sky works to create a land of more opportunity

Our Solution Seekers series continues this week with a special look at the work of the Land of Sky Educational Attainment & Workforce Collaborative. The Land of Sky Regional Council began in 1966 to positively impact the people of Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania Counties.

The myFutureNC statewide attainment goal of 2 million North Carolinians between the ages of 25 and 44 obtaining a high-quality credential or degree was announced in February of 2019 — and the Land of Sky collaborative launched shortly thereafter.

Dr. Michael Dempsey, Dean and Director of Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Asheville campus and one of the leaders of the collaborative, told our colleagues, “We’re doing it for the greater good, not just to make business people happy, not just to boost enrollment at the colleges, but to make life better for people across this four county region, no matter who they are.”

To learn more about the collaborative, including the specific steps they are undertaking, their governance structure and funding stream, and their innovative efforts around an Early Warning Response System, check out the piece.

The search for the NC Community College system president moves to the next phase

Last week, the NC Community College presidential search committee met. We do not know much about the meeting, as it was primarily conducted during a closed session, but we do know the application period has now closed.

Breeden Blackwell, the Chair of the State Board of Community Colleges, and Bob Stephens, the Chair of the Search Committee, penned an op-ed that ran last week making the case for the importance of the search given the role community colleges will play as we move forward.

They also described some of the qualifications they are considering in the next system president: “The board is seeking a leader with a passion for the mission of community colleges and a commitment to public higher education, access, inclusion, affordability and academic excellence. We need someone who is creative, visionary and experienced, with strong ethics, high energy and the ability to work with groups that have diverse needs. We want a consensus builder who can articulate the merits of the system and work collaboratively alongside the presidents of our 58 local colleges.”

For the remainder of their op-ed, click here.

Around NC

Last week, we reported on the rise of ransomware attacks across the educational spectrum. It was also reported last week that Guilford Tech CC faced a significant virtual attack that knocked out some classes and programs for multiple days.

The Avery Journal Times examined the myFutureNC county profiles for their local region noting: “High school graduates from Avery High School are likely to obtain a college degree or other credentials within six years of graduating, as 60 percent of students do so in Avery compared to just 49 percent in peer counties. About 54 percent of graduates are likely to enroll in a postsecondary institution 12 months out of high school, and 75 percent of these students make it to their second year.”

From our colleagues at the Belk Center: We are delighted to invite you to join us for our three-part Research-to-Practice webinar series on transfer students and equity. These hour-long discussions engage practitioners working with students in two- and four-year institutions with nationally recognized scholars studying transfer trends, with plenty of opportunity for participants to ask the panelists questions. 

1) Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2:00 pm EST – This webinar focuses on state and institutional policies that shape community college students’ ability to apply, afford and succeed in their transfer institutions.  Join us to get an inside view of evidence-based policy solutions from all over the US. Register for the webinar and submit questions for our panelists here.

2) Wednesday, October 14, 2:00 pm EST – In this second discussion, we’ll delve into the latest data in transfer trends nationwide, with an eye toward equity.  We’ll also hear the results of longitudinal research on transfer student perspectives and apply those insights to current practice. Register for this webinar and submit questions for our panelists here.  

3) Wednesday, October 21, 2:00 pm EST – This last webinar looks at course mobility and optimal transfer pathways for degree completion. Learn from the experiences of community college professionals as they adapt institutional policies and practices to build student success. Register for this webinar and submit questions for our panelist here.  

Other higher education reads

  1. CREE, the semiconductor and LED business headquartered in Durham, announced a $4,000,000 investment in NC A&T to launch a new scholarship program.
  2. The Public School Forum published a piece examining the complexities of increasing broadband access across the state. This quote from Jeff Sural, Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office at the NC Department of Information Technology, stood out: “Hot spots and buses are great in the short term, but they aren’t sustainable… Why not plan a more permanent solution? We have dedicated networks for public safety (911) — let’s build a broadband education network that ensures all kids have access to high-speed internet service plans at home.” 
  3. The Center for Community College Student Engagement issued a report last week on the need to use guided pathways to redesign the student experience. The net-net? The authors state that if colleges wish to improve outcomes then they must reform the student experience. The report is worth your time.
  4. must-read perspective in the New York Times makes the case for increased investment and innovation in the community college space as one solution for a country trying to move forward out of a steep economic downturn as a result of the pandemic. The author takes aim at one competitor for funds and students: “When they are needed most, these two-year public institutions are themselves in desperate financial straits. … History is repeating itself. In the last recession a decade ago, lower state tax revenues and budget cuts left community colleges unable to meet demand. Unemployed job seekers turned to for-profit colleges, often with disastrous results. Community colleges have seen budget cuts and enrollment declines this fall, while for-profit online training is growing rapidly.”

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.