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Community College 3.0

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Creating a stronger community college system depends on pushing students toward post-graduation success, said Joshua Wyner in the College of Education’s annual Dallas Herring Lecture on November 14.

Wyner, vice president and executive director of the College Excellence Program at The Aspen Institute, emphasized the need for community colleges to move beyond providing access and development opportunities to students. His keynote address, “Community College 3.0: What’s Next for the Student Success Agenda?”, spoke to these issues.

“We need to redefine student success on campus,” said Wyner. “We need clarity and advising to get students into our institutions, through developmental education and all the way to a degree. Once, students can align their academic endeavors with what comes next, they complete their degrees at much higher rates.”

Community College 3.0 provides a path to degree completion through four key components. To achieve success, institutions must: engage four-year colleges and universities in improving transfer and bachelor’s attainment; engage employers in defining common goals for talent development; align student advising systems to post-graduation goals, including enrollment, program choice, credential maps, and financial aid; and reorient leadership.

“Post-graduation success will be used to measure the strength and viability of community colleges,” said Wyner.

This metric greatly impacts how community colleges plan for the future, noted Dr. James Williamson, president of the North Carolina Community College System.

“When a student matriculates to a community college, we need to think about their ultimate goals,” said Williamson. “Many students want to gain a skill set and move on, but we need to get them to complete their degree. To do that, we need to provide all of the intensive services necessary so students can clarify their goal and how to achieve that goal.”

Completing a community college degree will continue to gain value in North Carolina. By the end of the decade, the state will obtain more than 250,000 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related jobs. Currently, demand for job applicants with community college degrees far exceeds supply, which creates a highly-competitive market for graduates.

“Community colleges and community college graduates will help build a more prosperous economy in North Carolina,” said Dr. Warwick Arden, provost and executive vice chancellor for NC State. “To meet the demand for these graduates, we all must work closely with community colleges to promote their growth and success.”

In addition to Wyner’s keynote speech, several awards were presented to a College of Education alumnus and several doctoral students. Dr. Bill Ingram, president of Durham Technical Community College, received his Master of Science and doctoral degree in adult and community college education from NC State in 1993. Dean Mary Ann Danowitz presented him with the I.E. Ready Distinguished Leader Award for his dedication and service to North Carolina Community Colleges.

Sarah Hoffart and Deana Guido, doctoral students in the Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development Department, were presented with awards honoring their scholarship after the keynote address.

Through leadership and innovation from the College of Education, its students and alumni, North Carolina community colleges will continue to thrive and promote success for all students.