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The governor’s budget includes one-time bonuses for community college personnel

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The governor’s budget includes a one-time bonus for state community college personnel… A-B Tech shares their tips for the fall semester… Bladen CC president Amanda Lee hopes policymakers will consider the lessons of the Great Recession as they look ahead… Various colleges are launching efforts to gain students for mini-mesters…

Governor Roy Cooper released his 2020-21 budget proposal last week ahead of lawmakers’ return to Raleigh. Included in Gov. Cooper’s budget ask was $80 million for one-time, $1,500 bonuses for both UNC System and NC Community College employees. 

The governor also wants to tap into $30 million of remaining federal COVID-19 relief funding to help community colleges with testing, cleaning, personal protective equipment and more.  

This request is on top of the recent $15 million allocation for short-term workforce training scholarships that my colleague Molly Osborne discussed in her piece on the recent State Board meeting. 

My colleague Alex Granados will be tracking the legislature throughout the week. Stay tuned for his coverage!

I visited A-B Tech recently to better understand their approach for the fall semester as well as their tips and strategies others might embrace, including:

  • Survey, survey, survey: Listen to your students and faculty. And show them what others said.
  • Focus on morale and connectivity for your team.
  • Maintain a focus on the future — even during the pandemic.

Beth Stewart, the vice president of instruction for A-B Tech, struck an optimistic note that I wanted to share: “As crazy as all of this has been, I believe we are going to come out a much stronger college. We are going to offer better products, be a lot more flexible, and therefore more competitive in the long term. We were already doing good things, but we are going to do great things now.” 

What are your thoughts on the future of community colleges? Will all of these innovations during the pandemic lead to longstanding change and greater opportunities? Let us know by texting COLLEGE to 73224, reply directly to this email, or tweet us @Awake58NC if you have other thoughts or ideas.

See you out on the road,


Director of Growth,

We visited Bladen Community College and president Amanda Lee

We had a series of conversations with Bladen CC and Bladen County leaders over the course of a muggy afternoon in Dublin last week. All of those leaders referenced the resilience of their community in the face of past natural disasters as a defining characteristic that had prepared their community for the pandemic. They also pointed to other attributes they have brought to the table, including their own early investment in distance education nearly two decades ago.

But as others have noted, natural disasters are temporary and time-limited. Amanda Lee, Bladen CC’s president, pointed out the rolling, ever-changing nature of the pandemic as one of many factors that make the day to day of COVID-19 so difficult for institutions.

“How long can you maintain the sense of urgency and the sense of emergency?” Lee shared with us. “How long do you do a drill before the drill? … It’s hard for everybody.”

We also dug in on future budget challenges that may follow this COVID-19 influenced fall. Lee told us she hopes policymakers will remember the Great Recession. She said her message to those in positions of power would be: “Do not forget our role and how vital it is. I hope legislators will continue to back us financially… and allow us some flexibility and give us some stability. And the thing that I hope they also see is that as a system, we are so strong, and work together so well.”

For the full piece, click here.

Listen | Interrupted podcast explores views from college during COVID-19

Our summer 2020 engagement fellow Anna Pogarcic, who is currently serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Tar Heel, worked with my colleague Alli Lindenberg on a great multi-part podcast series that explores the different experiences of college students as they approach a fall unlike any other.

Anna spoke to three students — one in college, one incoming college freshman, and a high school senior — about their decision-making processes, what they hope to achieve from the fall, and what their future might hold.

The story of Katie Logan stuck with me: “So many other high school seniors didn’t get that experience that we were promised. I didn’t get prom this year. I already bought my dress. It’s sitting in my closet. It’s just hard, and I really held out hope for a long time that I was going to be able to go to college and have at least a semi-normal experience there, and I’m just facing the truth now, and so many other people are facing that truth, that it’s not gonna happen.”

Give the podcast a listen! We’d be curious to hear the student stories you are hearing this fall.

From white board to lightboard — Johnston Community College collaborates with the local public school system to help teachers go virtual

Schools and community colleges across the state are experimenting with ways to tackle virtual learning. Johnston Community College (JCC) is partnering with local public high schools to help teachers create more engaging virtual content, and my colleague Alli Lindenberg captured the story.

JCC, and other colleges, are trying to figure out the best method to effectively teach online, including how to translate whiteboards virtually. JCC is unique in that they built their own lightboards to translate the process.

The other interesting part of the story? The methods and strategies that JCC will take into high schools through local partnerships. Check out the full piece by clicking here!

Around NC

Community colleges across the state are launching innovative ways to bolster enrollment and serve students. Southwestern Community College, for example, is launching an “Enroll Anytime” selection of classes this semester. According to the press release, students can earn as much credit as they can fit into their schedules, and new sections begin every week from Sept. 8 through Nov. 2.

Wake Tech also announced a “Fall Forward” initiative that will provide students with an opportunity to access 80 courses that can begin in either September or October. The courses are offered in either 8- or 12-week segments. 

Last week, Central Piedmont Community College announced a $1-million grant to support plumbing and pipefitting scholarships and instruction courtesy of the Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company.

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.