Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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 – 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 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 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 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


Moseley Architects – Design Build Projects (NCACCT Business Partner Article)

Posted on: August 20th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Design-Build Projects


What is the Design-Build delivery method?  

The best construction projects on college campuses result in facilities that fully meet the needs of faculty and students alike. To achieve this, campus leaders must first choose how to approach their construction project, which starts by deciding on a project delivery method. The project delivery method is outlined by a contractual agreement defining the roles, responsibilities, and integration level of the three primary parties in a construction project: the owner, contractor, and architect. Choosing the right project delivery method for your campus is critical to fostering an efficient process resulting in a project that maximizes value while also meeting both your program and aesthetic needs. There are benefits and challenges to every project delivery method, but some are more poised than others to engage with community college owners in a streamlined, transparent, and integrated way.

In North Carolina, the Community College System and the State Construction Office (SCO) offer the option for colleges to utilize the Design-Build project delivery method as an alternative to the more traditional Design-Bid-Build (DBB) — also known as low-bid-method. Unlike traditional DBB projects, where the contractor is not involved in the design, a Design-Build project incorporates the owner, architect, and contractor early in the design process via a sole source contract. As a result, it encourages problem solving with all team members’ full ownership from design through construction. This occurs when the contractor brings critical trade partners into the process for a fully integrated design without surprises in the field. Consequently, the only change orders experienced through a Design-Build delivery method should be a result from clear changes in scope.

How do you know if the Design-Build delivery method is the right fit for your campus?  

Exploring the Design-Build delivery method starts by having an open dialogue with the SCO. The SCO will help identify potential challenges and advantages for your specific project. One of the benefits of the Design-Build process is having a simplified contractual structure, meaning your staff will only have one point-of-contact for the entire project. The contractor is typically the primary point-of-contact in a Design-Build agreement, while the architect and engineers work as consultants under the contractor’s prime agreement. With an experienced team, a Design-Build process streamlines communication for the college and can virtually eliminate design change-orders in the project. Because of this integrated team approach, Design-Build projects enjoy the benefit of real-time feedback from the contractor regarding constructability, material lead times, cost, and sequencing. This helps to maximize the budget and value, often accelerating the project completion in comparison to a traditional DBB process.

What are the drawbacks to Design-Build?  

With a Design-Build project, selecting a team committed to being collaborative and transparent is essential and can mitigate most drawbacks. Unlike other states which select Design-Build teams based on price, North Carolina institutions choose Design-Build teams based solely on qualifications. Making qualification-based decisions is advantageous for our community colleges because it gives more freedom in determining what is most important in a Design-Build team for each institution. We have included other items to consider when selecting a Design-Build team below.

  1. Does the team have successful Design-Build experience with the State Construction Office?
  2. Do the contractor and architect have successful experience working together on any project delivery method?
  3. Does the architect have relevant experience for your building program?
  4. Does the team commit to a fully transparent and collaborative process?

With the right team, this integrated approach can foster an environment of collaboration, transparency, and buy-in from everybody, resulting in a streamlined project that maximizes the budget.

Moseley Architects had the privilege of partnering with Wayne Community College (WCC), one of the great 58 community colleges, to realize two projects through the Design-Build delivery method. Our first project with WCC was featured at the 2020 State Construction Conference and can be viewed by scanning the code below.


As architects dedicated to student-first educational design, Moseley Architects is committed to our North Carolina Community College System. We welcome any opportunity to engage and discuss if Design-Build is right for you and your college. ­­

Written by Brad Lockwood, AIA, Stephanie Cooper, AIA, and Suzanne McDade, AIA of Moseley Architects

Aviso – Partnering with NCCCS to Help Students Succeed (NCACCT Business Partner Article)

Posted on: June 11th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Aviso logo for NC_

Aviso – Partnering with NCCCS to Help Students Succeed

Since 2012, Aviso Retention has partnered with NCCCS to identify at-risk students and to provide technology-enabled holistic student support through predictive analytics, early alerting, messaging, and reporting features – built upon best practices – to increase student retention and degree completion. From the time of our initial partnership with NCCCS, Aviso has gone from working with 33 NCCCS colleges to 42 out of the 58 in the community college system. This increase is a direct result of our record of success in implementing and training two-year community colleges and technical colleges with our innovative programs and ground-breaking research, such as the Minority Male Success Initiative and our First in the World research.

The Minority Male Success Initiative (MMSI) was developed to focus on increasing the progression and completion rates of minority male students and to help strengthen minority male student outcomes by encouraging participation and collaboration among student participants, peers, college departments, and administration.

In developing the program, Aviso is partnering with 11 NCCCS colleges for a three-year commitment to assess and augment the student success rates of minority male students. To this end, Aviso is helping partner colleges to configure software that will meet their unique needs and to track specific student cohort groups of new minority male students and other at-risk groups.

This spring, with the conclusion of the first year of the MMSI program partnership, Aviso analyzed the collected data from the Aviso Predict data warehouse, which was used to build and support the various risk models associated with assigning and displaying student risk profiles. The data also contained many points of interest that could be used when examining the long-term impact of student success initiatives on campus.

The completion of the first year of the MMSI program found positive outcomes for minority males both in terms of course completion and persistence. Minority male students who were part of the MMSI program were found to have a 1.8% increase in course completion and a 1.5% increase in persistence.

Preliminary results demonstrated:

1. Racial/Ethnic Gaps in Persistence Decreased

Minority male persistence rates are closer to white male persistence rates than previously noted. This is good news, possibly pointing to evidence that use of Aviso Engage, an equity solution that makes it easy to reach out to students, helps to identify issues preventing students from succeeding, and develop strategies to address them.

2. Racial/Ethnic Gaps in Course Completion Decreased
Course completion rates also decreased between historical and impact terms. The ongoing gaps, in part, were likely as a result of online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All these gaps decreased from historical terms, but still have room for improvement.

Preliminary results from the MMSI program suggest that success coaching through the MMSI program is an effective way to help ensure minority male students persevere in their studies and complete their academic programs. These findings also suggest that by partnering with Aviso and implementing software programs that meet each learning institution’s unique needs, partner institutions were successfully able to track cohorts of new and returning male minority students and other at-risk groups.

Aviso has also been committed to research efforts to determine if proactive and individualized success coaching at 10 NCCCS colleges improved student retention. The First in the World (FITW) program used a unique combination of targeted student success coaching, predictive analytics, technology supports, and business process changes to discover if this combination of efforts had the potential to significantly improve student success.

Key findings of the FITW research program include:

*Impacts of success coaching grow larger over time.

*Male students and black students experience larger benefits from coaching.

*Strong institutional support and low coach turnover increase the impacts of success coaching on student retention and completion.

The FITW research program yielded impressive results for participating colleges:

*9% increase in longer-term retention for students who had success coaches.

*12% increase in credential completion for students who had the same coach for the duration of the study.

*18% increase in likelihood to stay enrolled for two academic years for black students assigned to a coach.

*9% increase in credential completion for students who had success coaches.

Aviso is devoted to helping NCCCS colleges be able to easily identify at-risk students who may benefit from student success initiatives. We have been grateful for the partnership that we have forged with NCCCS and will continue to support our NCCCS partnerships as they move forward.

Learning institutions that are interested in learning more about Aviso’s industry-leading student retention programs can contact us today. Aviso programs are easy to integrate, intuitive to learn, and scalable for any size institution or budget. Please visit for more information.

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: Richmond CC Trustee Claudia Robinette

Posted on: June 11th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Spotlight on Community College Leaders:                                                             Richmond Community College Trustee Claudia Robinette

By Ashley Blizzard, NCACCP/NCACCT Communication Coordinator & Events Manager

A Richmond Community College (RCC) trustee since 1998, Claudia Robinette’s appreciation for the community colleges began when she saw how her mother’s job as a basic skills instructor at RCC improved the lives of students—both financially and professionally. In spite of her being aware of how community colleges could change lives for individuals, after becoming a trustee, she was surprised to learn the extent to which community colleges impact local communities. She realized that if it were not for the community colleges, a large group of people would not be educated or have the job skills necessary to provide for their families.

Robinette is extremely proud of the leadership and staff at RCC. She is impressed at how RCC attracts such quality people to teach and to be a part of RCC’s staff, stating that some even travel as far as two hours to get to work. She values the college’s ability to adjust to situations like the pandemic in order to produce the best results for the school’s students and community.

Her admiration for community college students seems to be similar to the pride she has for the RCC leadership and staff. When asked who she most admires, she said she had thought about that for a while and always came back to this response: “Every time I go to the community college and see the students who are working—many of whom have families—and are still going to the community college and trying to do something good for their families, they are who I most admire.” Robinette admits she does not know that she would be able to do that herself; it takes a lot of commitment.

At RCC, Robinette would like to see the college add more training space for students. “It’s important to look for things that are on the horizon that can keep the college, community and students moving with the times,” she says. She believes we need to be adaptable to the job market and ready for whatever the future holds in order for people to find better and higher-paying jobs. She also believes it is key to work and partner with private enterprise to create programs for training potential employees in shorter periods of time like community colleges can. “Companies realize that about community colleges,” says Robinette, which in turn, helps our economic development. She says that quick training benefits employees, employers and the community.

Robinette also praises the community colleges’ abilities to culturally enrich communities and to improve peoples’ qualities of life, citing events held at RCC’s Cole Auditorium. The college is an “identity for a community. It’s not just a school; it’s a source of pride for everyone,” says Robinette.

Like many of her fellow NCACCT executive board members, Robinette believes enrollment and funding are two of the biggest challenges for community colleges right now. When asked about advice she would give to newly appointed trustees, she first said to become educated on the community college system as much as possible and to be involved with the North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees. She also said, “Attend the conferences, read the literature, and keep up to speed with what’s going on in the community colleges. You have an obligation to be involved and to support the local community college by attending things like graduations and other functions. It means a lot to staff and students.” Additionally, Robinette reminds trustees to realize the role of a trustee and the role of the president. “Don’t be a micromanager,” says Robinette.

Robinette and her husband of 36 years, Kenneth, own C.F. Smith Property Group, a commercial real estate firm with properties primarily throughout the Carolinas. Her family is what she is most proud of in life. The Robinettes have an adult son, Neil, who lives in Pinehurst with his wife, Catherine, and their two children, Claudia and Beverly. The Robinettes’ daughter, Gabrielle Goodwin, lives in Waxhaw with her husband, Matt, and their two children, Madelyn and Grey.

In her free time, Robinette enjoys traveling, reading, walking at the mountains and the beach (her two favorite places to relax) and spending time with family and friends. Since Robinette enjoys traveling, she says she would really like to visit some of her family’s ancestors in Scotland and Ireland and see where they lived. Additionally, although she has visited many of the 50 states in the United States, she would like to visit them all. Finally on her bucket list, she says she wants to learn how to ride a horse so she can do that with her family and not be awkward like when she tried to do some trail riding recently in Blowing Rock!

A couple of interesting facts about Robinette include that she lived in Colombia, South America for about a year and a half after enjoying living there while interning with a pharmaceutical company. She returned to Colombia after her internship and taught English at a learning center. The other interesting item to note about Robinette is that she flew a plane at the age of 15. Her father flew a plane, so Robinette also wanted to learn to fly. She took flying lessons and soloed before she was ever able to drive a car! However, her interest in flying waned when a cross wind came up during a landing one day. She said she would not do it now again for anything!

When questioned about the best advice she has ever received, Robinette had a few she wanted to share. First she said her father always said, “Give me the bad news because the good news will never hurt you.” He also said, “The best money earned is the money that you save.” Finally, Robinette’s own personal advice: Always read the instructions before you start doing something.

Finally, Robinette wanted to share that she believes that our future is definitely going to be dependent upon our community colleges, especially now. “People don’t have to have a four-year degree to necessarily be successful,” she says. “I think the stigma is gradually going away.” Robinette is also on the board at Wingate University, so she sees higher education from both the community college and the university perspectives. She says the agreements between the community colleges for students to transfer to universities helps make the higher education process seamless. The possibilities for students are “exciting,” says Robinette.

An Evaluation of Boards of Trustees – During and After the Pandemic (NCACCT Business Partner Article)

Posted on: April 5th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

An Evaluation of Boards of Trustees—During and After the Pandemic

By Dr. Joseph Barwick and Dr. Michael Taylor – Executive Leadership Associates, LLP

In its almost 60-year history, the North Carolina Community College System has faced some significant challenges beyond the normal ups and downs associated with enrollments and budgets. For example, in 1990, Operation Desert Storm took many of its military students out of the classroom. Hurricanes that play havoc with the coast almost every fall have also disrupted the schedules of community colleges over the years, including Hugo in 1989 and Florence in 2018. The great recession of 2008-2009 saw budgets cut and enrollments spike.

Yet it is safe to say nothing has impacted the entire system, or the entire world for that matter, as COVID-19. When Governor Roy Cooper announced on March 14, 2020, that North Carolina public schools were closing, it was obvious community colleges would soon follow. Just four days later, then system’s president Peter Hans made it official: almost all instruction would move online.

A system that prides itself on being able to nimbly deliver education quickly to individuals, business, and industry had to totally change directions. It goes without saying, nobody had a Global Pandemic Emergency Plan in the files. For a system with 58 colleges serving approximately 700,000 students, March 2020 created a whole new ball game.

A significant portion of community college instruction was already online prior to campuses closing, but almost of all of those students were taking online instruction by choice. By necessity, online instruction became not a choice, but a requirement to stay enrolled.

As the role of the student changed dramatically, so did the role of the community college trustee. Most trustee orientations do not include a seminar on how to support a college president during a global pandemic. Additionally, it is likely that at the start of the pandemic, many trustees were not familiar with virtual meetings.

However, the broad role of the trustee remains the same: to hire and support a president; and to serve both a fiduciary and a policy-making function at the college. But during this pandemic, that role has become more challenging. Some examples of issues trustees have had to address are further explained below.

–The board has always had a responsibility for the fiscal well-being of the institution. This past year, the trustees also assumed a responsibility for the physical well-being of students, faculty, and staff at the college.

–A trustee board should always work as a unit. Trustees’ power is collective in nature, not vested in individual trustees. Under the new “rules of engagement,” meetings became virtual.  Board unity was more important than ever, but also more difficult to achieve.

–The role of hiring and evaluating a president became more difficult. During the hiring process, Zoom interviews sometimes took the place of in-person conversations and campus visits.  Evaluating the college chief executive also depends on interpersonal interaction with the president, but that too became problematic.

–North Carolina Session Law 115D, which governs community colleges, including how trustees are appointed, stipulates in section 12(b) that trustees must reside in the administrative area of the college. Clearly, the intent is that Boards of Trustees not only represent the college in the community it serves, but they also have a duty to bring the community’s needs, challenges and opportunities to the college. Trustees are required to approve ALL new programs as an assurance that college programming addresses only the needs of the community it serves. Now is a good time for Boards to do a serious self-assessment as to how well they maintained that link between college and community during this disruption. For example, did the Board exchange pandemic information shared by the governor and department of public health that changed daily? Did the Board share information in terms of how these mandates would impact the college and ways the college might respond as a community resource?

–Our system was designed to allow the local college to address local needs. As the pandemic progressed, community colleges responded with different approaches designed by the local president and implemented by the staff. Was the Board in agreement that the local approach was the best for the community within the resources available? Was the Board listening to the local business community in order to support the president as the college had to rethink and revamp how it delivered workforce training, small business support, and even programs preparing essential workers, such as nurses, EMTs and CNAs? Is the Board knowledgeable enough to legislatively advocate for the college so the college is held harmless for the impact on enrollment? Regardless of whether Boards “meet” monthly or quarterly, Board connection with both their college and the community is constant. There has never been a better time for Boards to take that “big picture” look at how strong and effective that link is now.

–As normal systems of instructional delivery changed, ensuring the college had a plan to monitor institutional effectiveness became even more important this past year. Do trustees know how this massive shift from in-person, in-class instruction to mostly online instruction impacted the effectiveness of their college?

Hopefully, the pandemic is grinding to a laborious demise. However, the college and the community it serves now have to start picking up the pieces. This means accelerated workforce training and preparing the campuses for what is hopefully, an influx of students. Remember, students have been working in isolation and juggling family and personal responsibilities in preeminent ways. An essential question to ask now is: How did we do as a Board? That question leads to the next big question: Where do we go from here?

Part of a trustees’ responsibility is to be a visionary for their college. If ever there was a time to be that visionary, it is now.


Dr. Joseph Barwick and Dr. Michael Taylor are two of the partners in Executive Leadership Associates, LLP, and former NC community college presidents (Carteret CC and Stanly CC respectively).  Dr. Barwick was also interim president at A-B Tech when the pandemic hit.  Visit to learn more.

Registration for the 2021 Virtual Law/Legislative Seminar is Open!

Posted on: April 5th, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Registration is now open for the VIRTUAL 2021 NCACCT Law/Legislative Seminar.  The seminar will be held online on Friday, April 23

Click here for more information.