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What is next for the NC community college system with Peter Hans departure

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NCCCS president Peter Hans is now president-elect of the UNC system… The Department of Education has opened the comment period for student eligibility for CARES Act funding… Our first Virtual Town Hall focused on critical decisions facing colleges moving forward…

The big news of the week is Peter Hans being named president-elect of the UNC system. Hans has served as president of the North Carolina Community College System since May of 2018.

Hans’ departure will spark yet another presidential search for the system during a complex time for the state’s 58 community colleges as they wrestle with COVID-19 and potential implications for funding due to state revenue shortfalls.

The system has had four different leaders in the past five years. Scott Ralls was president of the system office from 2008 until 2015. The system has since had two full-time presidents — Jimmie Williamson from 2016 to 2017 and Hans since May 2018. The system has been led by two interim presidents as well — George Founts (2015-2016) and Jennifer Haygood (2017-2018).

Breeden Blackwell, chair of the State Board of Community Colleges, shared the following, “Our board will meet soon to discuss next steps as we begin to think about an interim president and the search for our next leader.”

We will be covering the transition process as it launches.

What is next for the system? What kind of leader is needed moving forward? A number of leaders weighed in on their perspective.

Click here for the story

What are your thoughts? Does it matter to you if the next system head has worked in North Carolina? Do you want to know if they have worked either in the system or at a community college? What other factors should be considered? Text COLLEGE to 73224 to join the conversation or reply directly to this email to share your perspective on system leadership moving forward. 

Last week we reported that Senate Bill 816, the bill providing $41.5 million in enrollment funding for community colleges, had passed the General Assembly. The bill was actually sent to the conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate version. We will continue monitoring the bill and report on its progress.  

Thank you for joining us this week! I am on the road for the first time since COVID-19 hit visiting Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, Catawba Valley Community College, McDowell Tech, and Western Piedmont Community College over the next few days. Join the journey on Twitter via @Awake58NC. 

See you out on the road,


Director of Growth,

What are the crucial decisions facing community colleges moving forward?

My sincere thanks to the hundreds of folks who gathered on Zoom with us last week for our first Awake58 Virtual Town Hall. Community colleges are wrestling with decisions on how to use CARES Act funding, both for student aid and institutional costs; face-to-face instruction; potential enrollment spikes; the safety and health of faculty, staff, and students; and the role they might play in North Carolina’s economic recovery in the years ahead. We dove into all of these issues during the town hall.

Below are some clips from the conversation:

Pitt CC’s Lawrence Rouse on student data and how they deployed student aid

AACC’s David Baime on the decisions made by the federal government with the CARES Act

Central Piedmont’s Kandi Deitemeyer on her hopes for the next round of federal funding

CVCC’s Garrett Hinshaw addresses the history of managed flex

In terms of the CARES Act, Deitemeyer and others encouraged participants to weigh in during the Department of Education’s open comment period on student eligibility for CARES Act emergency financial aid grants. You may leave your comments through this portal by clicking here.

The portal contains the following language from the Department of Education: “Although the Department has decided to issue this final rule without first publishing a proposed rule for public comment, we are interested in whether you think we should make any changes to this rule. We invite your comments. We will consider these comments in determining whether to revise the rule.”

We concluded the town hall by asking what instruction might look like this fall. Kandi Deitemeyer led us through some of the questions that Central Piedmont CC is wrestling with: “It may be a little early to tell, but we’re looking at, what are the metrics in our county? What are the metrics in the state? How do we implement safeguards and PPE? And how do we do social distancing?”

Kenneth Ender of the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research wrote a reflection on the town hall sharing his key takeaways. He posed the following question at the end:

“As we rebuild our systems to better withstand the next unprecedented event, we must ask the question constantly: How can this system support all members of our community?
Read his piece here, and click here to watch the full town hall!

What does the future hold for rural North Carolina after COVID-19?

“What issues facing rural North Carolina keep you up at night?”

I recently had the chance to ask a dozen leaders from across the state what the future might look like now that the COVID-19 pandemic has had such a profound impact on our state.

Interview participants included former Lt. Governor Walter Dalton, president of Isothermal Community College, Pamela Senegal, president of Piedmont Community College, and others.

Check out the full video by clicking here — and then share your thoughts by replying directly to this email. What is keeping you up at night? What are the strengths rural North Carolina might lean on as we look to recover? 

Perspective | Reducing barriers for community college students through compassionate virtual mentoring

Carrol Warren, Ed.D. is a faculty scholar with the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research where she teaches in the Community College Leadership Ed.D. program. This week, she has tips for virtual mentoring with compassion. Her tips include:

→ Model compassion

→ Provide an inclusive mentoring environment

→ Mentor with a purpose

Warren concludes her piece by writing, “Incorporating these three components into the delivery of virtual mentoring for students who represent the entire community college population will promote opportunities for empathy, engagement, and inclusive culture and will contribute to more equitable outcomes for students.”

For her full piece, click here.

Full statements regarding Peter Hans’ departure

Below are some of the full statements we collected from various statewide and community college leaders regarding Peter Hans’ departure from the community college system during our reporting over the last few days. See our article for more.

We will be publishing more perspectives on the leadership transition in the weeks ahead. If you would like to submit a piece for consideration for publishing reach out to my colleague Molly Osborne at

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), and Governor Roy Cooper

“Peter Hans has done tremendous work as president of the N.C. Community College System, and he’s the right choice for UNC System President.

“That we all agree on Peter is a testament to the respect he commands as an able, competent leader.

“The UNC System is a shining example of quality, affordable public education. It bears responsibility for North Carolina’s competitive and skilled workforce. We’re confident Peter will continue to build on the System’s centuries of success.”

Breeden Blackwell, State Board of Community Colleges Chair

“Our community colleges are stronger because of Peter Hans. He led our system with energy and vision. In the past year alone, we have seen a critical new infusion of state funding and the first enrollment increase in nearly a decade. While we are sad to see him leave our great community college system, we are excited about his new role at the UNC System, and we look forward to stronger partnerships with the universities.

“Our board will meet soon to discuss next steps as we begin to think about an interim president and the search for our next leader.”

Bill McBrayer, State Board of Community Colleges member

“I am selfishly sad to see my friend, President Hans, leave our community college system.  At the same time, I’m so happy for him and all that he will do for our university system and our state.

“Since Peter’s arrival, he has built and strengthened relationships with our presidents association, our trustees association, system office staff, and the State Board. He obtained additional funding for workforce education programs, built relationships with foundations and industry partners, and launched the first statewide marketing campaign. For the first time in nine years, we have seen enrollment growth in our colleges.

“The president assured me that he would continue to be an advocate for community colleges and would ensure that North Carolina students have a smooth transition from community colleges to universities.

“Peter is a good man and a great leader, and I look forward to seeing him continue his excellent work for our state.”

Mark Poarch, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute president

“I am excited for President Hans and wish him well as the next President of the UNC System. He has been a tremendous leader for the NC Community College System for the past two years and has helped advance the community college mission across our great state. While we will miss him and his leadership greatly, I know that he will be a champion for community colleges and continue to advocate for community college students.”

Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont CC president

“Peter Hans, as president of the North Carolina Community College System, has been a champion for our colleges and students. He has been approachable, thoughtful, and tremendously effective in representing our system, especially with members of the NC General Assembly. I believe we are a better system having had him as our leader.

“If Peter’s departure is imminent, he will be missed. Yet, I am excited he will be leading the UNC System. I anticipate the relationship among our systems will be strengthened and become more collaborative. I wish him many blessings and much success in his future endeavors.

“As we move forward as a system, we need a solid and committed leader who understands North Carolina and the mission of our astounding community college system. Since 2015, we have had three leaders at the helm of the system. Stability in leadership is imperative as we navigate the changing marketplace of higher education and ensure our 58 colleges remain strong and responsive. We have much to accomplish for so many in our state. I hope we will look for a servant leader, who understands the diverse needs of our communities and students we serve, and who can champion the story of community colleges and our collective impact as North Carolina’s economic driver for workforce development.”

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.