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One community college will be mostly virtual this fall

Welcome to Awake58!  If you missed the previous newsletter on COVID-19’s impact, click here. If you were forwarded this newsletter, please click here to subscribe.

New presidents have assumed office at A-B Tech, Martin CC, and WPCC… WPCC announces they will be mostly virtual this fall… Webinars abound in the weeks ahead looking at enrollment trends, strategies for boosting enrollment during this climate, and how to excel at virtual learning…

Parents, students, and teachers across the state are waiting on the news of what education might look like this fall. Serious questions ranging from how districts can afford PPE and hand sanitizer to what happens when teachers are exposed to COVID-19 to how schools might tackle a combined virtual and in-person approach continue to play a role in the debate. As that debate rages on, community colleges are beginning to announce their own plans, and we expect to see a range of approaches.

Last week, Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) announced the “vast majority” of classes will be held virtually this fall. Joel Welch, WPCC’s new president as of July 1, highlighted the reasoning behind his decision in a conversation with the Morganton News-Herald: “(One key factor was) first and foremost, how do we really support our students. (Another key factor was) the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. We want to be a part of the solution and we understand we have a diverse employee body and a diverse student body. We’re trying to work in a way that is sensitive to how our people and our community are approaching this.”

Earlier in June, Lenoir Community College announced they will provide synchronous  learning options for their students, so students can select the option (either face-to-face instruction or virtual) that they feel will best serve their health and educational needs.

All of these decisions are difficult ones for each college and their leadership. Presidents and administrators have told us they are cognizant of the desire of many students to resume some level of face-to-face instruction. As they decide how to move forward, they are looking at many things, including analyzing the overall health trends of their service area, crunching the numbers to understand what costs they can cover that will allow them to keep their community safe, and more.

Just before the July 4th holiday, we caught up with Mark Poarch to better understand one president’s perspective on the decisions facing colleges as they consider their fall plans.

Click here for the story

We appreciate you sharing your perspective in recent weeks. Please feel free to reply directly to this email or text COLLEGE to 73224 to share your own perspective on the decisions facing your local institution this fall. And, as always, remember to follow us on Twitter via @Awake58NC for the latest news, research, and information.

Thank you for reading!

See you out on the road,


Director of Growth,

Webinars aplenty this week — including one with MC Belk Pilon

On Tuesday, July 14 at 11 a.m. ET, our colleagues at The Hunt Institute are hosting a webinar titled, “Supporting Innovation in Education: Removing Barriers to Postsecondary Success.” We thought you might be interested in listening in as their guests, including MC Belk Pilon of the John M Belk Endowment, discuss how they use philanthropy to overcome barriers to success in higher education, especially during the pandemic. You can RSVP right up to the deadline at 11 a.m. by clicking here.

Other webinars happening soon include:

→ Enrolling in Education: Motivations, Barriers, and Expectations from the Strada Education Network on Wednesday at 2 p.m.

→ Navigating enrollment shifts during COVID-19 and our current economic downturn will be explored through a webinar co-hosted by the Ed Strategy Group among others. This webinar will also be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. 

→ A second webinar co-hosted by the Ed Strategy Group on July 29 will explore another large question facing postsecondary institutions as more institutions shift online: How will institutions and systems ensure high-quality online learning opportunities?

State Board of Community Colleges meeting this week

The State Board of Community Colleges will meet virtually July 16-17. Committee meetings will be held on Thursday, beginning with Programs at 9:30 a.m. followed by Personnel at 11 a.m., Strategic Planning at 1 p.m., Finance at 2 p.m., and Accountability and Audit at 3:30 p.m.

The full board will convene at 9 a.m. on Friday. We anticipate the appointment of an interim president to be discussed at the meeting. Our senior reporter Alex Granados will be reporting from the meeting. Follow him on Twitter at @agranadoster for more.

As a reminder, the State Board appointed a presidential search committee at the end of June. We reported on what some community college leaders are looking for in terms of the next president a few weeks ago. Give it a read by clicking here and let us know your thoughts.

The full agenda for the meeting can be found by clicking here.

Around NC

myFutureNC is looking for a Director of Philanthropy. From the listing: The Director of Philanthropy will be responsible for managing the strategic direction and tactical implementation of a comprehensive fundraising program with individual, corporate, and foundation objectives. This new position will work closely with the President & CEO and myFutureNC’s Board of Directors in building a diverse set of donor prospects across North Carolina and nationally.

On July 1, Wesley Beddard officially started serving as president of Martin Community College, Joel Welch assumed the presidency at Western Piedmont, and John Gossett took over as president of A-B Tech.

CCC&TI and Gardner Webb University announced new co-admission agreements for students who wish to begin their postsecondary career at Caldwell and conclude at Gardner Webb.

Craven Community College announced a free 16 hour manufacturing pathways course, the result of a partnership with a local manufacturing company that includes a guaranteed interview at the end.

Those of you who know me know that I love BBQ, so the Summer of ‘Cue caught my eye, but the NC Pork Council also announced expanded scholarship dollars for students at a series of community colleges.

Pitt CC announced details around their COVID-19 task force as they prepare for fall courses. Western Piedmont CC announced they will hold the majority of their classes online this fall.

Columnist D.G. Martin is out with a column exploring what the UNC system might expect as Peter Hans transitions to lead the system.

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.