2% increase in enrollment at North Carolina community colleges

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Recent numbers show that North Carolina community college enrollment grew 2% in fall 2021.

At the February meeting of the State Board of Community Colleges, North Carolina Community College System NCCCS President Thomas Stith announced that 33 of 58 colleges reported an increase in full-time student equivalents, a measure based on the number of hours of study accumulated.

Enrollment increases were greatest for basic skills and continuing workforce education courses. Core skills increased 40% and continuing workforce education increased 22% after experiencing significant declines in fall 2020. For program courses, enrollment rebounded compared to the previous fall, but are still down 3%.

Screenshot of the system president’s February report.

Stith said demographic and roster information will be available later this month.

The directory Career & College Promise (CCP) Report presented at the Council meeting showed that 68,477 secondary school students participated in PCC in the 2020-21 school year, which represents a 3% decrease from the previous school year. Of those enrolled, 32% attended innovative cooperative high schools and the remaining 68% participated in vocational and technical education or college transfer programs.

The report notes that the decrease may be due to the rapid increase during the 2019-2020 school year, when almost 71,000 students were enrolled in CCP courses.

Strategic planning updates

Since September, the State Board of Community Colleges has been engaged in a strategic planning process that will define its vision for the future of the system. To assist in the development of the System’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, staff from the System’s Board of Directors and Office held eight regional listening sessions (December through February) in which they heard from leaders from universities and stakeholders across the state.

Three questions were asked to participants in the listening sessions:

  1. What is the biggest challenge facing your college right now?
  2. What is the solution you want to highlight that helps solve a critical problem in your community or region?
  3. What can the State Council and system office do to better support your students and institutions?

Some of the biggest challenges voiced by college presidents and other stakeholders include recruiting and retaining faculty and staff, enrollment, funding, and data.

College leaders identified several areas where they could use support from the State Council and system office. These included retaining faculty and staff, advocating for increased community college funding, reviewing the current funding formula model, helping to increase enrollment with more extensive marketing to the statewide and leveraging system-wide purchasing power to help colleges buy systems to improve data and technology.

Dr. Patrick Crane, vice president of strategic initiatives at the system office, said the top priorities were recruiting and retaining faculty and staff, followed by declining enrollment.

“The number one thing we heard from every college was faculty/staff recruitment and retention,” Crane said.

At the Strategic Planning Committee meeting, Crane asked board members to identify five areas where they saw the best opportunities to address system challenges.

A list of challenges identified during the listening sessions. Emily Thomas/EducationNC

Board members identified their top five, but the consensus at the end of the exercise was that the committee needed more time to prioritize and think about how some of the challenges could be combined. The committee also suggested identifying short-term and long-term goals.

Board evaluation and system office evaluation

The Board also approved a self-assessment survey. Jerry Vaughn, chair of the policy and governance committee, said the survey is designed to help the board better interact with staff and the system office chair.

“North Carolina’s community college system (system) has faced massive disruption in our local and global landscape and in our higher education systems,” reads the draft survey. “The system plays an increasingly vital role in driving the economic and societal well-being of our state and our citizens. A well-functioning board is critical to the success of the system and can provide important support to the system office at this pivotal time. »

According to the draft survey, the results will be used to inform two purposes:

  1. Establish an annual goal and expectations for the system chair
  2. Design and execute a three-year board engagement and development plan

You can read the full survey here. The results will be presented at the March Board meeting.

The Council also heard of an “organizational assessment” launched by the system office in December 2021 and conducted by CampusWorks. According to a Press releasethe assessment aims to ensure that the system office is “properly resourced and aligned with stakeholders to achieve its vision and mission”.

The assessment includes surveys, focus groups, interviews, data analysis, document review, etc.

According to the press release, the final report with “an accompanying roadmap” is expected in April.

New faces

Dr. Patty Pfeiffer, incoming president of Wayne Community College, spoke at Friday’s board meeting, expressing her gratitude to community colleges.

“I have a great passion for teaching in community colleges…I am a product of community college. What you don’t know is that I am the product of a single mother. I had free lunch from K-12… We have the opportunity at community colleges to change the lives of individuals. For me, that’s what happened. »

Dr. Patty Pfeiffer, President of Wayne Community College

Dr. Patty Pfeiffer at the February Board meeting. Emily Thomas/EducationNC

Grant Godwin, new executive director of the North Carolina Community Colleges Foundationaddressed the board and shared his vision for the role of the foundation in the years to come.

According to Godwin, over the years the foundation has been staffed by the system office. But after the departure of several staff members, the foundation is in the process of organizationally separating from the system office.

“It will allow us to be more progressive, more aggressive, more responsive to the needs and interests of the system office, the State Board and the 58 colleges,” Godwin said.

Grant Godwin at the February Board meeting. Emily Thomas/EducationNC

Godwin is the foundation’s first executive director.

He said his goal for the foundation includes better communication and relationships with the Presidents and Trustees Associations. He also said that the foundation will launch a major fundraising campaign and that the foundation’s budget will be synchronized with the system’s strategic plan and will focus on the highest priority needs of the 58 community colleges.

“As we fund projects, we like pilot projects that can be started in one area and then scaled across the state,” Godwin said. “We focus on impact areas that can affect all colleges or as many colleges as possible, encouraging regionalization.

Other things to note

The Board has approved two new Cooperative Innovative Secondary Schools (CIHS) for the 2022-23 school year.

Edgecombe Community College and Edgecombe County Schools will combine to form EDGE Early College of Health Sciences. The first college will provide opportunities for students interested in pursuing a health science education and help meet the overall health care needs in Edgecombe County.

The board also approved the Wake Early College of Information and Biotechnologies, a partnership between Wake County Schools and Wake Technical Community College. The objective is to respond to requests for information and biotechnologies from the Triangle.

The board approved funds to recruit and retain community college faculty in high-demand fields. The funds, which used to be part of the state budget, can be used for salary increases or one-time bonuses for hard-to-recruit or hard-to-retain professors in Level 1A or Level 1B courses. This includes part-time and full-time faculty in academic programs and vocational and technical education.

Allocations for each community college can be found here.

The next meeting of the State Board of Community Colleges will be March 17-18.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is a policy analyst for EducationNC.

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