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NC State Wins Grant to Help Develop Next Generation of Community College Leaders

Students in class

Support from John M. Belk Endowment Allows Partnership
with Aspen Institute to Boost Development Program

NC StateAs a number of top community college leaders across North Carolina prepare to retire, the John M. Belk Endowment has awarded North Carolina State University a $525,000 grant for a professional development program for the next generation of community college leaders.

Envisioning Excellence for Community College Leadership is a two-year project designed to strengthen community colleges by developing exceptional leaders. NC State will partner with The Aspen Institute, a nationally renowned educational and policy studies organization, and with North Carolina community college leaders, to integrate evidence-based best practices into its leadership training programs primarily targeted for department chairs, deans, administrators and doctoral students.

“Excellent leaders make an exceptional difference in student success,” said Dr. Robert Templin, former president of nationally renowned Northern Virginia Community College, who joins the NC State faculty for this initiative through a joint appointment with The Aspen Institute. “Investing in community college leaders now will pay dividends for decades to come by strengthening North Carolina’s middle class and contributing to the state’s economic prosperity.”

Research shows community colleges with the highest levels of student success have exceptionally talented leaders, whose expertise enables them to inspire student, academic and organizational excellence. At the same time, a significant number of North Carolina’s community college presidents and other senior leaders are set to retire over the next five years. NC State sees this reality as a challenge as well as an opportunity to align its professional development program with ambitious goals for student success.

“The success of any community college comes down to the quality of its President and top leadership, so the John M. Belk Endowment supports efforts that will give these leaders opportunities to learn new and proven best practices,” said Kristy Teskey, the Endowment’s executive director. “The best predictor of student success is whether they have great instructors – and great instructors must be identified, nurtured and supported by excellent college leaders.”

Based in Charlotte, N.C., the John M. Belk Endowment seeks to transform postsecondary education to meet evolving workforce needs. Named for its founder and former CEO of the Belk department store company, the Endowment supports organizations that provide opportunities for all students and help them attain college degrees and other credentials relevant to workforce demands.

NC State’s project team includes Drs. Mary Ann Danowitz, head of the Department of Leadership, Policy, Adult and Higher Education; Audrey Jaeger, professor of Higher Education; Duane Akroyd, professor; Susan Barcinas, associate professor; James Bartlett, associate professor; and Diane Chapman, teaching associate professor of Adult, Workforce and Continuing Graduate Professional Education, and Robert Templin, professor of practice and Community College Executive in Residence.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with our community colleges to develop and apply innovative approaches to prepare leaders to transform community colleges to increase student success and labor market outcomes for thousands of North Carolinians,” said Danowitz. “This ambitious and important project is at the heart of NC State’s mission to create and apply knowledge and leadership for social, economic and technological development across North Carolina and around the world.”