Enrollment decline has been one of the dominant stories for community colleges across North Carolina and the country in the past year. Piedmont Community College, nestled near the border of North Carolina and Virginia, has experienced it.
Pamela Senegal, who has served as president of Piedmont CC since 2017, joined us on the Awake58 podcast to discuss the present and future of her institution.
“We’re one of those schools … we’re concerned,” she told us. “Because if our budget is given to us, based on the current funding formula that’s in place, that puts us in jeopardy of potentially losing about $1.3 million. And, you know, when 85% of my budget is tied up in personnel costs, that has a huge impact.”
It isn’t just the college’s budget, or the existing staff, that needs Piedmont CC’s budget to be stable, Senegal said.
“Our community in particular needs us to be whole,” she said.
“So that as the economy does start to recover, as parents are able to send their children back to public schools, and as they don’t have to serve as their homeschool teachers, folks are going to come back to us. It’s just going to be a matter of timing. And so we’ve got to be prepared to do that, you know, and that’s why, with our legislative agenda this year, it’s never been more critical that our legislative priorities receive the funding that we’re requesting.”
Before she was named Piedmont CC’s first female president, Senegal was the vice president of economic and community development at Central Carolina Community College. We discussed many issues through her economic development prism on the podcast — including a little-discussed rule change proposed by the nursing board, waived for 2021, that would boost the educational requirement for nursing faculty. It would have a marked impact on Senegal’s institution.
For our full conversation — including Senegal’s take on the future of rural community colleges and her advice for those who wish to be a community college president — click above to listen.
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Behind the Story
Nation Hahn did the reporting and conducted the interview. Alli Lindenberg produced the podcast episode.