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Where we stand with community college budget priorities, and a new president named for Robeson Community College

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, October 1, 2019. Click here to subscribe.

We check in on budget priorities for the community college system to see where they stand… Community colleges see the need to ‘get very creative’ as enrollment keeps dropping… Dr. Lisa Chapman was formally installed as president of Central Carolina… Melissa Singler is the unanimous choice for Robeson Community College president…

Thank you all for reading last week  — and writing us back. It was a fantastic conversation. 

Alex spent time chatting with different folks last week to understand what community college presidents, faculty, and staff are wrestling with in the face of declining enrollment. He caught up with Isothermal Community College President Walter Dalton to discuss his perspective on the issue:

“[Dalton] said the country is closer to the next recession. Meanwhile, right now, community colleges are needed to close the gap between high-tech employers who have jobs to fill and the untrained workers who may want them.

‘It’s not only for North Carolina’s economy, it’s in regard to our national competitiveness,’ Dalton said. “We’re the number one country and the number one economy in the world. We don’t stay that way if we don’t have the workforce to support the high tech jobs. So I think it’s critical that people come back to school.’”

What is your college doing to bolster enrollment? What are you worried about? Are you optimistic? We want to know. We are going to continue our reporting and research on the issue. Next week, we will share what you have told us.

In other coverage this week, we reported on the latest news around the state budget process. The House secured a controversial veto override a few weeks ago, but it remains to be seen what is going to happen in the weeks ahead. 

The Robeson Community College Board of Trustees named Melissa Singler, executive vice president of Cape Fear Community College, as president this week. Singler’s appointment will go before the State Board soon.

Have a great week,


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EdNC reads

Community colleges see the need to ‘get very creative’ as enrollment keeps dropping

My colleague Alex checked in with several leaders across the community college system on declining enrollment: “[Dale] McInnis recognizes declining enrollment is an issue as a whole for the system… ‘I think that is a reality we are all going to have to look at,’ he said. ‘I think we are going to have to get very creative to escape the status quo.’” 

Where do we stand on community college budget priorities?

Budget priorities for the community college system include “parity funding” for short-term workforce development programs, expanded funding for career coaches, and more. The budget remains at an impasse in Raleigh, even with a dramatic recent veto override in the North Carolina House. This story documents recent developments in the budget process. Has your college been impacted by the delay in passing a budget? Let me know by replying directly to this email.

Will North Carolina still have 58 community colleges in 10 years?

The original story on the recent discussion at the State Board is here. State Board of Community Colleges Chair Breeden Blackwell declared at the meeting: “Elected officials…are not going to let you sit out there with empty classrooms and empty colleges.”

myFutureNC blog series: Aiming for Equity

The authors of this piece explore the postsecondary attainment rate among black and Latino residents of North Carolina and explain the importance to the myFutureNC attainment goal: “In North Carolina, black and Latino residents account for 54% of the targeted 25-44 age group included in the myFutureNC goal. But only 30.5% of black adults and 18.8% of Latino adults in North Carolina have earned an associate degree or higher compared to 46.9% of white adults aged 25-64.”

Other reads

Perspective | A budgetary impasse in stark red and blue

Ferrel Guillory checks in on the budget impasse in North Carolina. Guillory writes, “North Carolina has become not simply an evenly divided ‘purple’ state, but a ‘red’’ state and a ‘blue’ state within a common border. That’s the political reality fueling an urgency-sapping budgetary impasse.”

Spotlight swings to for-profit middlemen that may be driving up the cost of online higher education

“Boosters of online higher education have long held out the lofty promise that it would bring down the spiraling cost of college while also widening its reach. But a little-known industry of for-profit middlemen, which is skimming off as much as 80% of the proceeds and has U.S. revenues of $1 billion annually, may be thwarting the innovative potential of online education.”

Attainment for All: Postsecondary Pathways — The early college high school model

The Hunt Institute released a study showcasing the implementation of the Early College High School model in both Texas and North Carolina. The report notes, “Although the ECHS model is driven by partnerships between district leaders and presidents of institutions of higher education (IHEs), such agreements will only flourish in states where the right policy incentives and structures are in place.”

Colleges and states turn their attention to slow-moving part-time students

The Hechinger Report notes that fewer than one in five part-time students will graduate within eight years. This data point is becoming a pressing matter as the number of part-time students continues to grow: “On many college campuses in many states, part-time students remain an afterthought, even though part-timers now make up more than a quarter of students at four-year colleges, and close to two-thirds at community colleges.”

Around North Carolina

Melissa Singler chosen as presidential nominee for Robeson Community College

From the Robesonian: “The Robeson Community College Board of Trustees has chosen Melissa Singler as its nominee for the college’s president’s seat… Singler is the executive vice president of Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington.”

Dr. Lisa M. Chapman installed as Central Carolina President

From Central Carolina Community College: “Dr. Lisa M. Chapman was formally installed as the sixth president of Central Carolina Community College during a ceremony held on Thursday, Sept. 26.” Chapman spent 27 years at Central Carolina previously, beginning her career at the college as a biology instructor.

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.