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Awake58 podcast with Thomas Stith: ‘I want the North Carolina Community College System to be the first choice for an affordable education’

New North Carolina Community College system president Thomas Stith sat down with us recently to discuss his new position, the upcoming legislative session, COVID-19’s impact on the colleges, and the system’s role in moving the state forward.

“I want the North Carolina Community College System to be the first choice for an affordable education,” Stith told us. “During the midst of the pandemic, obviously, there have been many, many impacts on families across North Carolina, and I want to make sure that the system is properly positioned to be a very viable choice for any family in the state, especially when you look at the cost of higher education.

“Also, looking at diversity and inclusion, as I mentioned, you know, we’re seeing some concerns now in our enrollment figures. But I want to be a national model for diversity and inclusion within our system and providing opportunities across the board. …

“I think the third pillar, as we continue to move forward a year from now, is to enhance our engagement with the private sector and the business sector, being a strong partner with not only economic development and attracting jobs, but to be a strong partner, as businesses expand in the state. Because if you look at our students, you know, at the end of the day, they’re there to receive a solid education.”

Listen to our full conversation below.

You can view a transcription of this episode here.


There are 58 community colleges in the state of North Carolina. This podcast, by, dives deep into top news and commentary on postsecondary education and community colleges by talking to leaders, educators, and students.