Author Archive

FY21-23 State Budget

Posted on: July 20th, 2022 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

FY 2021-23 State Budget

State-wide Items

Information Technology

Economic Development


Spotlight on Community College Leaders: NCACCP President Dr. Mark Poarch

Posted on: July 19th, 2022 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Spotlight on Community College Leaders:

NCACCP President Dr. Mark Poarch

Having served six years as president at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (CCC&TI) and almost a year as president of the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents (NCACCP), Dr. Mark Poarch has earned the ability to share great observations and insights about North Carolina community colleges. From his perspective as a community college president, the most valuable trustee is “someone who is committed to the cause [and] serving the community.” He says it is important that a trustee focus on student success, help meet the needs of their communities, be engaged with and support the work of the president and have a trusting relationship with the president to ensure the president is doing his/her job appropriately.

“Good trustees should also be engaged with campus events so they can see the positive impacts they have on students and the community. Someone who can navigate the political landscape of our communities and build relationships with stakeholders is critical.” In short, he says that a good trustee is a champion for the college.

Poarch, himself, has been a champion for community colleges for over 30 years. Prior to becoming a community college employee in 1991 at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC), Poarch received his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1990 while playing baseball at Western Carolina University (WCU). For approximately one year, he worked at Brevard College as an admissions representative and a recruiter in Florida and Virginia. However, he left Brevard and advanced his career working in the testing center at Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC). While there, he worked his way up as the director of testing and later as the director of student records. Simultaneously, he was working on getting his master’s degree in two-year college administration at WCU.

By 2006 and with a master’s degree now under his belt, Poarch was working at CCC&TI. He went on to receive an education specialist degree in 2011 from Appalachian State University (ASU). Until that point, Poarch had never intended to become a community college president. However, with the encouragement and influence of his mentors, he continued his education and received his doctorate from ASU in 2015. At that time, he was the Vice President of Student Services at CCC&TI. Then in July 2016, he applied for and became the president of CCC&TI, where he continues to serve.

Poarch, who is a native of the town of Lenoir in Caldwell County, says, “It’s pretty cool working in the same town you grew up in. It makes the work even more special because it gives me the opportunity to give back to a community that gave so much to me growing up.”

Over the course of this past year, Poarch has also served statewide as NCACCP president. To be successful in this demanding role, he quickly learned he had to juggle multiple priorities simultaneously. He has also had to become more organized, especially with his time. Using what he learned at a local level and expanding it to a broader audience has also been important, he says. In turn, he has strengthened his communication skills. “Communication is critical,” he says. Ensuring he includes all appropriate community college stakeholders in his communication while being clear and thorough in his deliverance has been another key to his success as NCACCP president.

Poarch has also learned to more effectively navigate during times of transition. For example, President Stith became the Community College System Office president in January 2021. Six months later, Poarch became the NCACCP president, during which time he has worked on building relationships and trust between the new faces at the State Board, the System Office and presidents who are relatively new to the System. And although he thought Covid-19 would be short-lived, he says the constant challenges it brought to our system were unexpected and unprecedented.

Legislatively, Poarch believes the funding community colleges have received over the past two years has been some of the best we have seen in recent years. He would like to see the community colleges’ three-year legislative plan carried out and, as a result, be able to show community college staff and students they are truly valued. Additionally, he would like the legislature to make sure we are equipped with 21st century technology that will meet the needs of our students. He says we must continue to market the value of our community colleges as a first-rate, first-choice option. That will be important in helping North Carolina reach the myFutureNC attainment goal of having 2 million credentialed workers in the state by 2030.

In considering the future, Poarch says students want flexible learning options. He explains that we must meet the needs of students who are juggling work, family, etc. by providing instruction in various formats, including face-to-face instruction on evenings and weekends. However, there are many challenges that come with that. He says we will have to learn how to best work with our community college, K-12 and university partners. We will also have to continue to work with shifts in population, especially in our rural areas. “Regional partnerships will be critical,” he says. “I think community colleges are going to continue to be a more critical entity in meeting the needs of the workforce in North Carolina. People are continuing to rely on community colleges. We have to have resources to be able to meet those workforce needs if we’re going to be the answer,” says Poarch.

When he is not working, Poarch likes to spend time with his family at the beach or the mountains. He and his wife, Tracy, have been married 30 years this month. They have one son, two daughters and some may be surprised to learn that he also has two grandchildren. Poarch also enjoys hunting, playing golf, and doing landscape work in his yard.

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: Pitt CC Trustee Gloristine Brown

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Spotlight on Community College Leaders:

Pitt Community College Trustee Gloristine Brown

“I know my calling; my calling is to serve,” says Mayor Gloristine Brown. Brown heeds that calling daily. Beginning in 1999, Brown served as commissioner of the town board of Bethel, North Carolina. Since 2014, she has served as the town’s mayor. She is also on numerous local and statewide boards and committees, is in her sixth year as a Pitt Community College (PCC) trustee and is on the NCACCT Executive Board. Most recently, Mayor Brown announced her candidacy for the North Carolina House of Representatives.

In her involvement as a community college trustee, Brown says it was not until after she joined the board that she learned it was her job to support the college president rather than to help manage the college. She said that if a trustee realizes there are concerns at his/her college, then the trustee should talk to the board chair or to the President. “The President is the one who makes the decision about what to do,” she says. One thing Brown quickly learned when she became a trustee was that she needed to be involved in the college to respond to community comments and questions about college activities. She said she likes to be at every committee meeting so she can hear information firsthand.

Brown suggests new trustees stay engaged as much as possible by attending board and committee meetings and by interacting with those who are on campus. She advises to never assume; always ask questions. She also warns that trustees should not make promises or speak negatively about their schools. A trustee, she says, should be the true champion for a college. “People will know if you really care about your college,” says Brown.

Brown sees the important roles community colleges play in our communities and beyond. She understands that for students who want to go to a four-year university, beginning their educational journey at the community college can save students money. She also sees how community colleges can provide one-on-one attention to help students determine what they want to do for a living so they do not waste valuable time and money. “I look at community colleges as being a savior for students,” says Brown.

At PCC, Brown is especially proud of the numerous ways the school helps students continue their education. She is impressed with PCC’s early college program, as well as the school’s reentry program, which works with the county’s sheriff’s department to help those who have been in detention or imprisoned receive education they need to get into the workforce. She is proud of the school’s VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program, whose purpose is to provide mentoring, career guidance and $1,000 per year scholarships to selected Pitt County public high school students. Programs like that, says Brown, provide funding that help students who may otherwise not be able to continue their education.

As for the community college system as a whole, Brown loves the way the colleges work together as a family. She says that even though colleges are in different parts of the state, the goal is the same. “We are all trying to be one voice. Colleges work together; I love that. There is no ‘I’ in team,” says Brown. “We can show the United States that North Carolina is truly the great 58,” she says.

Although she is currently a full-time politician in her mayoral role in Bethel, Brown’s occupational history has included working a bit in the nursing and insurance industries. In fact, if she could do it all over again, she says she would use her calling of service to become a registered nurse. A mother of two now-adult children—a daughter and a son—Brown said that it was her daughter who encouraged her to get her Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems and a master’s degree in Public Administration. While she is glad she accomplished these educational goals, she wishes she had received her degrees at an earlier age.

As mayor, one of Brown’s biggest success stories was when she was able to affect the citizens of Bethel in a positive financial way. Brown helped Bethel’s residents reduce their water and sewer bills by an estimated 23 percent. The town partnered with the Greenville Utilities Commission to assume ownership and management of the town’s water and wastewater systems.

Brown is also proud Bethel has a workforce development center that is partnering with PCC and that the town now has a thriving youth center. She said she is pleased that some of the town’s younger citizens want to restore some of the youth programs that Bethel once had. “Seeing community involvement was one of my prayers. That’s what makes a community,” says Brown.

When asked why she wanted to run for a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Brown stated that several people approached her about running. After giving it some consideration, she decided she would like to use the same energy she was using to serve her community in Bethel and extend that service to her district. If elected, Brown says she could check running for state office off of her bucket list, as serving at the state (and perhaps later, the federal) level is something she has wanted to do for a while now. Brown wants to serve the rural area of her part of the state by giving her constituents a voice in Raleigh. “It’s not about my agenda. It’s about what is best for the people,” says Brown. “The heart I have for my town is the same I would have for my district.”

With the experience she has gained as a trustee, Brown says if she succeeds in her run for the House of Representatives, she knows she could be a strong voice for community colleges. “I’ve been in the trenches,” she says. “I’m on the inside looking out.” Brown wants to be the person who can emphasize the positive effects community colleges have on our communities and in turn, help community colleges receive the funding they need to be even more effective. If elected, Brown said one of her top priorities would be community colleges. She also said she wants to make sure North Carolina’s citizens have affordable healthcare and jobs in which they are well paid.

In her free time, Brown loves to read, play word games, sing, and, of course, volunteer. “I will give my last if I need to. Children and seniors are my heart,” says Brown.

2022 NCACCT Law-Legislative Seminar Presentations

Posted on: April 5th, 2022 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

The following are the Presentations from the 2022 NCACCT Law-Legislative Seminar in Raleigh:

Board Decision Making and Relationships

Community College Governance

Derek Steed – Business Partnerships

Ethics Training

Legal Challenges after Covid

Legislative Agenda

Orientation Presentation

Strategic Planning

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: James Sprunt CC Trustee Ed Emory

Posted on: February 21st, 2022 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Spotlight on Community College Leaders:

James Sprunt Community College Trustee Ed Emory

In his 12th year as a James Sprunt Community College trustee, Ed Emory says he has been (pleasantly) surprised to learn two things since becoming a trustee. First, he has been surprised to learn the depth of the course offerings that our North Carolina community colleges have to offer. Secondly, with the advent of the Career and College Promise program, he has learned that high school students can get college credits and can even graduate with a two-year degree—a fact he shares with high schoolers he encounters.

Retired as the Duplin County Extension Director with North Carolina Cooperative Extension at NC State University, Emory has a background in agriculture and education. Additionally, as Extension Director, Emory led educational programming in agriculture, 4-H youth development, family and consumer sciences and community development.

Spending his entire career in education, Emory sees the opportunities community colleges can provide to both college-age students as well as to older adults. He also sees how community colleges help sustain local economies by providing continuing education for workforce development. Emory says that while trustees need to work together for statewide funding, they also need to show the individual county governments how much their contributions are appreciated and how essential they are to the success and growth of our community colleges.

Serving as a trustee has given Emory the chance to be involved in selecting a college president, which he believes is a task of the utmost importance. Selecting and supporting a good president results in a growing faculty and staff. That, in turn, supports the students, which as Emory puts it, is “what we’re all about.” Emory has also come to understand that setting policies and providing leadership and support to the president is also an invaluable part of being a trustee.

Emory also commented that he has been glad to be involved with the North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees because trustees do not “come to the table” with the complete set of skills of how to be a good trustee. “The Association provides us with the important training we need,” Emory says. He says it teaches trustees about organizational and board development and makes trustees more effective by informing them about state and national issues that relate to community colleges.

Showing community college employees and students that they are valued is an issue of concern for Emory. He says when we look at our employees, we need to focus on how to raise their salaries to increase capacity to serve our students. To show our students they are valued, he says we must first eliminate enrollment barriers so they can be successful. We also must consider diversity, equity, and inclusion. “I don’t think those are just the buzzwords of our time,” says Emory. “We have to make sure every student feels welcome and safe and that they have the resources they need to succeed.” Then, he says, our students will be successful. He says to eliminate barriers, we first must develop relationships with students and parents in elementary, middle, and high school, and make them know what a significant resource the community colleges are–especially now that we have dual enrollment and early college high school. He says it is important to show students they can obtain college credits and that they can save money while doing it.

As a James Sprunt Community College trustee, Emory says he is proud of the family approach his college takes when someone becomes a student there. When students enroll, they become a part of the “James Sprunt Family,” and he appreciates how the school does all it can to ensure their students’ successes. He would love to see the workforce development program continue to grow at James Sprunt as well as see growth in their high school recruitment.

Although Emory officially retired in 2009, that does not mean he has stopped working. He was president of the NC Farm Families organization for three years. He also works part-time for the University of Mount Olive’s agricultural program. There he coordinates the AgPrime Tobacco Trust Fund grant program for farmers in 33 eastern North Carolina counties. He also works with county governments to develop farmland preservation plans.

In his free time, Emory likes anything relating to Wolfpack sports. He also enjoys working on his family’s farm in Carteret County. Emory loves to be with family and friends, and he enjoys being outside. He even started a 25-member golf travel group 32 years ago that is still going strong. The group, who all happen to be from Duplin County, gather annually in Pinehurst.

Emory also loves to travel. He recalled a trip to Eastern Europe about five years ago that he says was his best vacation. Learning about the history and cultures of places he had never thought to visit before was so interesting to Emory. He also recollected the surprise he felt when he visited Cuba shortly after the country’s reopening. Being made aware of all that Cubans had forgone for so long made him feel a compassion for them that he had not expected. Emory’s love of travel is infinite to the point of stating that if anyone says to him, “Let’s go there,” he will say “Yes!” It does not really matter to him where they are going; he just likes to go!

Too humble to really use the word “proud” to define any of his life’s accomplishments, Emory states he truly has had a blessed life. He says he is happy to be involved in a community where he can give back just a portion compared to what has been given to him.

Advice he would share with a new trustee would be analogous to the best advice he ever received from former County Extension Director Lois Britt, which was, “Never stop learning.” His advice to new trustees would be to learn by attending all the board meetings you can, be an active member of the NC Association of Community College Trustees (NCACCT) and if you are able, be involved in the national Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). Being active in these groups, he says, provides valuable tools and relationships that will help you be a better trustee.

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: NCCCS President Thomas Stith

Posted on: December 17th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Spotlight on Community College Leaders:

NC Community College System President Thomas Stith

Whether leading the U.S. Small Business Administration’s response to COVID-19 in North Carolina, serving as a local councilman and entrepreneur, directing a program focused on improving eastern North Carolina economies, or serving alongside a North Carolina governor – Thomas Stith has specifically chosen professional opportunities that improve the lives of others.  Now, as President of the North Carolina Community College System, Stith says his current role allows him to continue that life of service while strongly advocating for educational opportunities and driving economic growth in the state he loves.

Since he took the helm as the System President in January, North Carolina has navigated a pandemic while quickly pivoting in order to rebuild small businesses and draw in big businesses and jobs.  For example, he mentions Toyota’s recent announcement that the company will open a lithium battery plant at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, which is expected to lead to the creation of 1,750 jobs.

“While incentives matter, the number one reason Toyota selected the site in Randolph County is because of the workforce,” Stith said.  “Our community colleges are fueling the job engine in North Carolina and are the key reasons businesses are expanding and locating here.”

Stith has more than three decades of experience in economic development and government relations.  He was chief executive of several businesses and consulting firms, including the Michael Thomas Group in Durham and LJP Lab, a toxicology lab and health care consulting company in Kernersville.

He served as chief of staff to former Gov. Pat McCrory from 2013-2017 and was a three-term city council member in Durham from 1999-2007.  During his time in the Governor’s Office, he led special initiatives, including the establishment of the Venture Capital Multiplier Fund (a $60 million venture fund), the Governor’s initiative on historically black colleges and universities and Hurricane Matthew recovery.

Stith’s political acumen helped him navigate one of the longest “long” sessions in North Carolina history as he had to hit the ground running to advocate on behalf of the NC Community College’s systemwide legislative priorities.  Ultimately, the System received a final biennial budget of $1.46 billion – the largest received in more than a decade.

“Lawmakers heard from our entire community college family – the State Board and System Office, along with the local Presidents and the Trustees,” Stith said.  “That consistent message and that unified voice made a big difference for our legislative agenda.”

He continues: “This biennial budget reflects the critical and long-term role that the Community College System serves in our higher education and economic development ecosystems,” Stith said. “The appropriated State funds will help our community colleges to continue their mission of maximizing student success by providing the support, training and education needed for high-quality, high-demand, high-skilled, and high-wage careers.”

Stith looks forward to the System building on that momentum as the community college partners develop a three-year legislative strategy.   Part of that strategy will be a continued request for additional salary increases for faculty and staff.

“We are currently in the process of asking colleges for specific information about how they are having difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified people to work on their campuses,” he said.  “Our people are our greatest resource and we can only serve students when we have the faculty and staff to support them.”

While he has walked the halls of the General Assembly, talked to the state’s policy and business leaders, and represented the System in a variety of business and educational forums, Stith says he is most inspired when he visits the community college campuses.  Today, he announced to the State Board that he has now visited all 58 colleges.

“I have been afforded the opportunity to serve as the President of the North Carolina Community College System,” Stith said.  “I am grounded in my faith.  This job is not just professional – it’s personal, and I have been blessed with this opportunity.    Many roads have led me to this point, and I will never take it for granted.  I will work hard every day to ensure that our students get what they need and deserve to be successful.”

The Danger of Open Meetings Violations – NCACCT Business Partner Article

Posted on: December 15th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

The Danger of Open Meetings Violations

By: Q. Shanté Martin, Of Counsel

Compliance with the Open Meetings Law is an ongoing, ever-present obligation for all North Carolina public boards.  The advent of Governor Cooper’s COVID-19 State of Emergency added a variety of additional open meetings requirements for public boards holding remote meetings.  While community college boards of trustees span the entire state, have varying local priorities, have varying topography, have different demographics, and have diverse political leanings, one thing is universally constant – the application of the Open Meetings Law.  This article will highlight a few open meeting requirements to which community college boards of trustees should be sure to adhere, especially while in the current declared COVID-19 State of Emergency.  This article will also highlight the danger in not complying with the Open Meetings Law.


Open Meetings Requirements During Declared State of Emergency

Definition of Remote Meeting – Per G.S. 166A-19.24(i)(3), only one board member participating in the board meeting using simultaneous communication (i.e. telephone or videoconference) would make the meeting a remote meeting. In other words, if 11 out of 12 board members attend the board meeting in person, if only one (1) board member calls in to the meeting, the meeting is defined as a “remote meeting,” and all of the additional requirements for remote meetings during a declared state of emergency must be followed.

Livestreaming Requirement – G.S. 166A-19.24(b)(9) dictates that remote meetings “shall be simultaneously streamed live online” unless the meeting is conducted by conference call. This means that if one or more board members attend the meeting via videoconference (i.e. via Zoom, Google Meets, WebEx, etc.) and uses the video, the board has to live stream the meeting.  If the meeting is held via conference call or if board members participate in the in-person meeting via conference call, the meeting does not have to be live-streamed even though it is still a remote meeting.

Roll Call Votes Required – For all remote meetings, all votes have to be taken by roll call vote. Voice votes are not allowed.  See G.S. 166A-19.24(b)(5).

Information Required in the Meeting Minutes – For all remote meetings, the following information must be included in the minutes: 1) “that the meeting was conducted by use of simultaneous communication;” 2) which board members participated via simultaneous communication; and 3) when board members participating simultaneously joined the meeting and when they left the meeting

Requirement to Clearly Identify Items Voted On – G.S. 143-318.13(c) requires that members of the public are able to clearly understand what is being “deliberated, voted, or acted upon.” The easiest way to achieve this is to post on the website an agenda that clearly communicates what is being “deliberated, voted, or acted upon.”  If the agenda is not on the website, then the board should share the agenda on the screen during the board meeting.


Open Meetings Requirements Applicable All the Time

Calendar of Regularly Scheduled Meetings on Website – If the Board establishes a calendar of regularly scheduled board meetings for the year, the Board is required to post the calendar of regularly scheduled board meetings on the website. See G.S. 143-318.12(d).

Minutes for and Notice of Committee Meetings – If a board has committees, each committee has to follow the same open meetings requirements as the full board. As such, if a board committee meets remotely, the board has to conduct roll call votes, have minutes that include the required components, and livestream for videoconferencing, etc.

Purpose Listed on Special Meeting Notices – For special meetings, the written notice of the special meeting has to list the purpose of the special meeting. During the special meeting, the board can only discuss the topic or topics identified in the written notice of the special meeting.  See G.S. 143-318.12(b)(2).


Conclusion – The Danger

Why is it imperative that local boards of trustees comply with all facets of the Open Meetings Law?  If a board violates the Open Meetings Law, a court may deem any action taken during such meeting “null and void.”  See G.S. 143.318.16A.  Given the innumerable vital actions taken by boards of trustees at every meeting, it would be extremely detrimental for a board to have one or more actions nullified by failing to comply with Open Meetings Law requirements.  Thus, I encourage boards to pay close attention to Open Meeting Law requirements and comply with them.  For questions on this topic, I encourage boards to consult with legal counsel.


Q. Shanté Martin is an attorney with Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP, a North Carolina-based law firm and NCACCT Business Partner.   Founded in 1992, CSH Law advises and represents clients in all stages of litigation before federal and state courts in North Carolina, as well as select administrative agencies.  For more information please visit: 

Pearson – Creating Better Student Learning Experiences (NCACCT Business Partner Article)

Posted on: October 19th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments


Partnering with Community Colleges to Create Better Student Learning Experiences
By Pearson, an NCACCT Business Partner

Today’s students are digital natives who expect quality and affordability in all of their products and services. In education, quality means that their products and services will help them achieve positive outcomes in the classroom, or wherever they choose to learn. It’s our goal to create learning experiences that surpass their expectations and help them succeed.

One way we are meeting this goal is by partnering with hundreds of higher education institutions, including many in North Carolina, to support campus Inclusive Access programs. As you may know, Inclusive Access is a digital-first program that institutions can implement with support from their bookstore to provide reduced-price high-quality eBooks and other materials to students on the first day of class.

Now in its seventh year, Pearson’s Inclusive Access has become a popular program for students, faculty, administrators and bookstores. In large part, this is because it has helped create simpler more equitable learning experiences by easing access to textbooks and learning materials.

Affordability is an important part of the learning experience and campuses that use Inclusive Access have helped students save hundreds of millions of dollars on course materials since 2015. On average, students in this program get up to seventy percent off of traditional print materials. We are very proud to work with Community Colleges and other partner institutions to achieve this success.

Another important feature that Inclusive Access partners offer to students is the assurance that they will have all of their required materials on the first day of class. Traditionally, eighty percent of students delay purchasing their required courseware. Research shows that early access to materials correlates with higher grades and completion rates.

Delivery of course materials on the first day of class is great for students AND instructors. Far too often, instructors struggle to retain students or help them succeed simply because they purchase materials too late. Giving students materials on the first day of class will help them have a successful start. It puts all students on equal footing so that some don’t get stuck waiting for financial aid or shipping, or shopping for books. This simple approach gives instructors a better chance to retain students and help them succeed throughout the semester. Our research from one major Inclusive Access university partner shows 70% of students started their assignments by the first day of class, compared to just 2% in 2014.

In addition, instructors enjoy the academic freedom to choose the content and eBooks they want. Inclusive Access instructors also enjoy the ability to assess engagement via digital courseware reports in our eBooks. They can track student progress so that they can decide where and when students need more support. This is critically important in the world of digital and hybrid instruction.

Last, college bookstores play an important role in the student experience. As courseware is rapidly transitioning to digital, Inclusive Access allows college stores to establish a sustainable approach to digital course material distribution that offers students greater convenience and consistent pricing. It allows bookstores to lower direct costs, and save students more.

In particular, we’re very proud of our many Community College partnerships. Together, we have created some of the most effective Inclusive Access programs for students. Here’s just one example. A Community College partner in Mississippi experienced a rise in graduation rates of 8% and a rise in retention of 10% since they implemented their Inclusive Access program. There was a 17% increase in gateway math student success. All told, these students saved 68% percent on their materials. There are many similar stories.

All of these examples go back to our goal – creating better student learning experiences that will help them succeed and graduate. Thank you for the opportunity to let us share how we are working with institutions to provide products and services that benefit students, instructors, and hundreds of colleges and universities.

For more information, go to Pearson | The world’s learning company | US.

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: SBCC Chairman Burr Sullivan

Posted on: October 19th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Spotlight on Community College Leaders:

State Board of Community Colleges Chairman Burr Sullivan

With a mind for business and a heart for education, Burr Sullivan has hit the ground running as the new Chairman of the State Board of Community Colleges.  He was elected Chairman in September for a two-year term, and he is optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead for the System and its students.

A native of West Virginia, Sullivan graduated form Marshall University and became an Army officer in May 1968.  He served in Vietnam as an infantry platoon leader and then came to North Carolina where he earned an MBA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  His was the sixth graduating class at UNC-CH’s MBA Program, now Kenan-Flagler.

His career led him to Lexington where he served as a division controller for Burlington Industries –one of the largest and most diversified manufacturers of textile products in the world.  He worked on the financial side of the company and then launched his own business venture in 1979 with the purchase of Dorsett Printing Corporation, which made packaging products for manufacturers in the Southeast, then around the country, and then all over the world as global markets opened.

Sullivan sold the company in 2007 and tried to retire, but says “that was the most boring six months of my life.”   Then, local business leaders came calling.  He was asked to lead the Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce to a better economic situation as it was struggling during the recession at that time.  He is credited with ultimately saving the Chamber in Lexington from closing its doors.  It took him two years to turn things around, but he stayed there six more years because he enjoyed building coalitions among business partners and liked working with young people.

He quickly discovered that one of the strongest business partners – and strongest economic drivers – in the Lexington area was Davidson County Community College (now Davidson-Davie Community College).    Under his leadership, the Chamber worked with the community college to determine the best customized training programs needed to optimize the success of larger businesses in the area.  He also directed other businesses to the Small Business Center, which Sullivan lauds as a key tool to helping smaller companies grow, thrive, and learn new skills.  Sullivan was recognized by Davidson-Davie CC with an honorary degree in May, 2021 for his 50 years of community service.

At the state level, Sullivan was asked by then NC Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco  and the General Assembly to serve on the North Carolina Economic Investment Committee (EIC), which evaluates potential Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) projects and makes decisions on business recruitment incentive funding.

“Serving on the EIC was truly an eye-opening experience,” Sullivan said.  “It was amazing to see how community colleges were so important to new companies that were considering a move to the state.  In fact, that was the first question:  ‘Can your State deliver a trained workforce to my business?’   We heard that over and over.  And, ultimately, it’s the community colleges that enable North Carolina to deliver that trained workforce so that our state can recruit businesses and bring jobs to the state—-or help existing industries expand.”

As the new leader of the State Board of Community Colleges, one of his first priorities is to schedule regional meetings for individual State Board members  and senior staff to travel throughout North Carolina to engage local Trustees, Presidents and other community college leaders and  hear what they believe to be the System’s future priorities.

“We want to get input at these regional meetings to help us to develop a new  Strategic Plan for the System, which will begin in July 2022 and continue through July 2026,” Sullivan said.  “The State Board is a group of volunteers, like the local Boards of Trustees are volunteers.  We all come to the table wanting to help people and impact their lives in a positive way.”

More information will be distributed in the next few weeks about the regional meetings.  “We will be learning by listening and interacting” Sullivan said.  “The State Board wants to learn more about opportunities/challenges facing our colleges, and we want our colleges to learn more about our Board.     If we can all continue to work collaboratively for the same goals of supporting our colleges and our students, then I know that we can make a real difference – TOGETHER.”

2021 Leadership Seminar Documents

Posted on: October 7th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

The following are the Handouts from the presentations at the 2021 Leadership Seminar:

Final Report from the NCCCS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force

DEI Task Force Final Report

Orientation for New Trustees

Effective Board and Trustees 

General Luncheon Session – John Davis Political Report

Political Trends and Public Policy Implications

Finance 101

FTE, Funding Formulas, What does it all mean?

Issues Impacting Rural Community Colleges

Rural Colleges Presentation