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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.”

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.”

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.

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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 www.avisoretention.com for more information.

Best Practices for Boards of Trustees Hiring a Firm to Assist with a Presidential Search (NCACCT Business Partner Article)

Posted on: February 2nd, 2021 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Best Practices for Boards of Trustees Hiring a Firm

 to Assist with a Presidential Search

by Kennon Briggs, ACCT Presidential Search Consultant

and Julie Golder, ACCT Vice President for Search Services

 

A Board of Trustees’ legal authority is defined in both North Carolina General Statutes (N.C.G.S.) and State Board of Community College Code (SBCCC). The clearest expression of a local Board’s authority is found in N.C.G.S. 115D-20.  This statute enumerates the powers and duties of each local Board in the North Carolina Community College System.

 

The first power delegated to the local Board is the election of a President. The significance of this authority being delegated to the local Board reflects the intent of the General Assembly that the Board would unquestionably be the governing body of the College, but through a model of shared governance, would employ a President to manage the daily operations of and provide executive leadership to the institution. It has been generally understood that perhaps the most important decision the local Board will ever make is the selection of its President.

 

In the presidential selection process, local Boards often seek a search firm to assist them with the selection of a President. While there are different models which can lead to a successful outcome and there is State Board policy that governs the search process, it should be understood that the Board owns and is responsible for the process.

 

Setting the stage for an open, transparent, equitable and participatory process is the essential foundation of a strong and healthy presidential search. As such, both the search process itself and the process to identify a Board’s search firm should be a competitive process. Competition is healthy and helps ensure the best possible presidential “fit” and outcome. A Board should consider working with its Procurement Officer, and if necessary its General Counsel, to fully understand internal and statewide regulations and guidelines. The Board will want to issue a Request For Proposals (RFP) for search services. The Board should also consider the following:

 

Before selecting a search firm, the Board should request and call references. Ask references about the outcomes of their searches, firm responsiveness, communication strategy, and any other concerns the Board may have. Also, to be fair and consistent, the same questions should be posed to each reference.

 

Search firms provide a variety of services. Therefore, as the Board assesses potential firms, they should consider the following:

 

In partnership with the College Attorney, the Board should review the outgoing president’s contract. The full Board should be familiar with the contract, seek advice on where it needs improvement , discuss compensation, and be compliant with State Board Code.

Keep in mind with respect to search firms: “Cheap can ultimately be expensive.” This is true with both presidential compensation, hiring the right firm and selecting the best consultant.

In summary, a Board of Trustees should take their time, be intentional, and select the search firm that that will result in selection of the best fit for the Board, college and community.

 

Julie Golder (jgolder@acct.org / 202.384.5816) is Vice President for Search Services and Kennon Briggs (kennondb@gmail.com / 919.621.7988) is a Presidential Search Consultant at the Association of Community Colleges Trustees (ACCT) in Washington, D.C.  ACCT is the national membership organization for Boards of Trustees and an NCACCT Business Partner. Both Ms. Golder and Mr. Briggs are available to provide additional information or respond to questions about the search process.

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: Fayetteville Tech CC Trustee Billy Wellons

Posted on: September 5th, 2020 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

William Wellons

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: Fayetteville Technical Community College Trustee Billy Wellons

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

A member of Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Board of Trustees for 17 years now, Billy Wellons admits that the college’s board and the Executive Board of the NC Association of Community College Trustees are the only two boards on which he now serves. The reason? Because he feels they really make a difference.

Wellons, who is in the real estate, development, property management, hotel and Harley Davidson business, is no stranger to board participation. However, after having served on many boards over the years, he finally made the conscious decision to only serve where he knew he could make an impact. The community colleges, he had discovered, was where that could occur.

Wellons said serving on the college’s board has given him a deeper perspective of what is around him. He has seen the years of opportunities and challenges faced by students and communities alike. It has been fulfilling for him to see students succeed and then become important contributing factors to the economy and to society.

Two major concerns Wellons sees the community colleges facing now are both finance related. First, he sees where community colleges need ongoing funding from the state. Secondly, Wellons believes community colleges need to be able to maintain flexibility in our financial services to an ever-changing population. “People are always moving and shifting…and they need support and encouragement. That’s part of what we do in our community college system. We help families face difficult circumstances [they] face in life,” said Wellons.

Community colleges are important to Wellons because he has seen the value community colleges provide to its students. Wellons shared a story in which one of his own employees was encouraged to go back to school when the employee attended his daughter’s graduation at FTCC. At the commencement ceremony, Wellons was one of the speakers. Wellons was unaware that because of his speech, his own employee made the decision to enroll at the community college to further his education. Cases like that prove the importance of community colleges to Wellons. Wellons said that deciding to go to the community college provides hope and greater opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment for those who may not have the resources necessary for success.

As a trustee, Wellons was surprised to learn how the community college accepts everyone—young and old, single parents, working parents, and those who may be challenged academically or financially. “We educate and train people to do real work in all trades and form our local communities and economy,” said Wellons. One thing that has really surprised Wellons is when the college has had its students speak at events and the students share how the school has treated them like a family. “The students really appreciate that,” he said.

During Covid, Wellons admits that keeping that sense of family and community has not been easy because the college is doing it from an absentee mentality. However, proper funding certainly helps. He praised the numerous online classes the college provides, even before the pandemic. Due to the fact that so many of FTCC’s students are in the military, many of its students are stationed all over the world. The ability for the college to provide them flexible, online classes with accommodating professors has given those students that sense of community.

Wellons is most proud of the way in which FTCC works with Fort Bragg. Wellons said the Fort Bragg Army General calls the college a “force multiplier” with the work the school does to train and educate our military. In military terms, the force multiplier is the factor that gives people or weapons the skills necessary to make greater achievements than they would without it. “At the heart of all of it, our people work in concert with our community that forms the magic that makes it all happen,” said Wellons. For the 17 years he has been on the college’s board, he said they have never had a trustee who had his/her own agenda. He is proud the college has a president and board who “work hard in working together.”

Wellons’ advice to new trustees strongly relates to the pride he has in his FTCC board. “Don’t come on the board unless you are serious about being a good trustee,” he says. “Don’t do it just because it’s an appointment. Come in with an attitude of harmony.” He also says to be involved and participate. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Wellons said advice he would share with new trustees is that you have to be flexible, you have to listen to your leadership, and you have to be creative and innovative. He said trustees have to demonstrate they care.

In order for the college to accommodate new technologies, one advancement Wellons would like to see at FTCC is a continued refinement and development of its information technology infrastructure. He would also like to see that FTCC’s faculty and staff are people who have been in the “real world” so they can share that experience with the students. Lastly, Wellons wants to continue to have the best equipment for instruction purposes. In a nutshell, he said, “We want to lead the way!”

When asked about his hobbies, Wellons’ first response was, “How long have you got?” His hobbies vary widely and include collecting guns and knives, bird hunting, his ownership of 20 Tennessee Walking Horses, photography (although he enjoyed it more before digital photography became popular), and a love of all kinds of music. For 10 years, Wellons was even part of a rhythm and blues band (named the Men of Distinction) that headlined for numerous Motown groups.

His favorite place to relax is at a family farm in Falcon, NC. There he can hunt, fish and ride his Tennessee Walking Horses. Wellons also said he relaxes when he rides motorcycles, which he has been doing since he was 18 years old. A partner and owner in two Harley Davidson dealerships, Wellons said he has had two very memorable vacations. The first vacation was when he was 20 years old and his dad took his family on a 30-plus day international trip that began in London. Wellons and his family traveled as far east as Moscow, as far south as Cairo and ended the trip in Switzerland with stops along the way that included Paris, Warsaw, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Rome and Athens.

His other memorable vacation was when he and one of his best friends rode 12,680 miles over the course of 40 days…on motorcycles! Their route began in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where they traveled into parts of Canada, then back into the United States where they journeyed across the northern states of the United States, back into Canada and then to California. Then after making several other stops that included Lake Tahoe and the Salt Lake Flats, they traveled to Milwaukee and joined 350,000 people for the 100th anniversary celebration of Harley Davidson.

In spite of the fact that it sounds like Wellons has “done it all,” he actually does have something left on his bucket list. He would like to rent a house and spend a couple of weeks in a village on the coast of Italy.

Some of the best advice Wellons ever received came from his dad. Wellons stated that throughout his life, he was always worried about his competition. However, Wellons said his dad told him that if he got up before everyone else and if he worked harder than everyone else, he would beat the competition every time. Wellons also said his dad would not ever accept the words, “I can’t.” According to Wellons, that mentality has given him a positive attitude that he could do what he wanted to do. Lastly, Wellons’ dad told him, “Put God first, family second, work hard, and you’ll be a good man.”

Wellons has several life accomplishments of which he is proud. First, he is an Eagle Scout. Second, he is the only one in his family who graduated college. He is also proud of his accomplishments as a businessman. Finally, Wellons said he is proud of his hard-working wife, who has owned her own hair salon for 28 years, as well as his two sons and one daughter.

Pearson Releases Global Learner Survey (NCACCT Business Partner)

Posted on: September 4th, 2020 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Pearson Report: Learners around the world see Covid-19 as a major turning point for modern education

Pearson, the world’s learning company, released a study in August that said more than three out of every four learners globally say the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed education as we know it. Those findings appear in the second annual Global Learner Survey, which captures the opinions and views of learners worldwide.

The survey shows learners believe it’s unlikely there will be a return to the pre-COVID world of entirely full-time, in-person work and learning. As they come to terms with this new reality, learners want schools and governments to address inequality in the learning experience, and desire digital skills they believe they will need to thrive in the new economy.

Pearson conducted the study during the pandemic with Harris Insights & Analytics, giving learners in seven countries the opportunity to voice their opinions on primary, secondary and higher education; and careers and the future of work. The poll surveyed more than 7,000 people, ranging in age from 16 to 70. Now in its second year, Pearson’s Global Learner Survey is the most comprehensive global public opinion survey of its kind.

“As learners adjust to a world forever altered by a pandemic, we felt that it was more important than ever that we hear their voices. They understand that the future of work and learning is now a dynamic mix of online and in-person experiences,” said John Fallon, chief executive of Pearson. “Learners are resilient, so they are learning and moving forward in new ways to seize that opportunity, no matter what the future holds.”

The Global Learner Survey’s top findings included:

  1. A belief that COVID-19 is revolutionizing education and work. 88% of learners globally say online learning will be a permanent part of primary, secondary and higher education moving forward. 77% say the pandemic already has permanently changed the way people work, with 90% saying people must become more comfortable working remotely and in highly digital environments. 82% say the pandemic will give rise to new kinds of jobs, and nearly three out of every four say it will result in rethinking of their career paths.
  2. Conflicting feelings about universities, especially when it comes to returning students to campuses this fall. While 75% of Americans think reopening universities is vital to a healthy economy, most are conflicted about how to do it safely, with 64% of Americans saying colleges and universities are risking the lives of students by reopening this fall. 84% globally believe that university students can still have a good experience this fall with a mix of in-person and online learning.
  3. A broader increase in trust and confidence in educators and education systems, because of how they responded to COVID-19. Two-thirds of people globally said their education system did a good job adjusting to the pandemic. In fact, this year more people globally (54%) said education systems are providing a quality experience than a year ago (49%).
  4. A desire to see education systems do more to address inequality. Even though learners continue to believe education delivers opportunity, they worry that opportunity is not equal, with 88% saying they want schools to do more about the inequality. In the U.S., 71% of people say that the pandemic has made them more likely to support student loan relief or government-funded, free-tuition programs.
  5. An acceptance of online education that includes a desire to see it improved. 88% of learners globally want educational institutions to maximize the learning experience through technology, though 67% say the education community uses technology less effectively than other industries, such as healthcare or banking. Given the choice to invest in public education, the survey’s global respondents said they would prioritize technology for underserved learners, followed by ensuring schools are better prepared for online learning.
  6. A strong interest in attaining digital skills to thrive through and beyond the pandemic. More than half of respondents said they are in need of new digital skills because their job status has changed, with 89% saying they need digital skills, such as virtual collaboration and data analysis to move forward in this economy. Indeed, 77% of people say working remotely has taught them they need different skills than what was needed while working in an office. Around the world, 71% intend to keep working remotely in the future.

To view the findings of the Global Learner Survey, including full findings for the US visit: go.pearson.com/global-learner-survey

More About Pearson

Pearson Education is committed to student affordability, access and achievement. Today, students pay an average of $110 per traditional print textbook. In a “digital first” marketplace, Pearson projects average prices will range from $29 (for a typical e-textbook) to $69 (if packaged with courseware or other learning tools). In addition, Pearson will continue to expand access to its traditional textbook rental program, which costs students an average of $60 per title. Overall, students can expect to pay between 30-60% less for textbooks by leveraging some or all of these affordable options. Thank you again for the opportunity to support your Association. We look forward to continuing our partnership in the future. We also always welcome the opportunity to collaborate with individual institutions to deliver a wide range of education solutions that enhance access, affordability, and quality. For more information visit: www.pearsonhighered.com

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: Fayetteville Tech CC Trustee Billy Wellons

Posted on: September 4th, 2020 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

William Wellons

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: Fayetteville Technical Community College Trustee Billy Wellons

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

A member of Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Board of Trustees for 17 years now, Billy Wellons admits that the college’s board and the Executive Board of the NC Association of Community College Trustees are the only two boards on which he now serves. The reason? Because he feels they really make a difference.

Wellons, who is in the real estate, development, property management, hotel and Harley Davidson business, is no stranger to board participation. However, after having served on many boards over the years, he finally made the conscious decision to only serve where he knew he could make an impact. The community colleges, he had discovered, was where that could occur.

Wellons said serving on the college’s board has given him a deeper perspective of what is around him. He has seen the years of opportunities and challenges faced by students and communities alike. It has been fulfilling for him to see students succeed and then become important contributing factors to the economy and to society.

Two major concerns Wellons sees the community colleges facing now are both finance related. First, he sees where community colleges need ongoing funding from the state. Secondly, Wellons believes community colleges need to be able to maintain flexibility in our financial services to an ever-changing population. “People are always moving and shifting…and they need support and encouragement. That’s part of what we do in our community college system. We help families face difficult circumstances [they] face in life,” said Wellons.

Community colleges are important to Wellons because he has seen the value community colleges provide to its students. Wellons shared a story in which one of his own employees was encouraged to go back to school when the employee attended his daughter’s graduation at FTCC. At the commencement ceremony, Wellons was one of the speakers. Wellons was unaware that because of his speech, his own employee made the decision to enroll at the community college to further his education. Cases like that prove the importance of community colleges to Wellons. Wellons said that deciding to go to the community college provides hope and greater opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment for those who may not have the resources necessary for success.

As a trustee, Wellons was surprised to learn how the community college accepts everyone—young and old, single parents, working parents, and those who may be challenged academically or financially. “We educate and train people to do real work in all trades and form our local communities and economy,” said Wellons. One thing that has really surprised Wellons is when the college has had its students speak at events and the students share how the school has treated them like a family. “The students really appreciate that,” he said.

During Covid, Wellons admits that keeping that sense of family and community has not been easy because the college is doing it from an absentee mentality. However, proper funding certainly helps. He praised the numerous online classes the college provides, even before the pandemic. Due to the fact that so many of FTCC’s students are in the military, many of its students are stationed all over the world. The ability for the college to provide them flexible, online classes with accommodating professors has given those students that sense of community.

Wellons is most proud of the way in which FTCC works with Fort Bragg. Wellons said the Fort Bragg Army General calls the college a “force multiplier” with the work the school does to train and educate our military. In military terms, the force multiplier is the factor that gives people or weapons the skills necessary to make greater achievements than they would without it. “At the heart of all of it, our people work in concert with our community that forms the magic that makes it all happen,” said Wellons. For the 17 years he has been on the college’s board, he said they have never had a trustee who had his/her own agenda. He is proud the college has a president and board who “work hard in working together.”

Wellons’ advice to new trustees strongly relates to the pride he has in his FTCC board. “Don’t come on the board unless you are serious about being a good trustee,” he says. “Don’t do it just because it’s an appointment. Come in with an attitude of harmony.” He also says to be involved and participate. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Wellons said advice he would share with new trustees is that you have to be flexible, you have to listen to your leadership, and you have to be creative and innovative. He said trustees have to demonstrate they care.

In order for the college to accommodate new technologies, one advancement Wellons would like to see at FTCC is a continued refinement and development of its information technology infrastructure. He would also like to see that FTCC’s faculty and staff are people who have been in the “real world” so they can share that experience with the students. Lastly, Wellons wants to continue to have the best equipment for instruction purposes. In a nutshell, he said, “We want to lead the way!”

When asked about his hobbies, Wellons’ first response was, “How long have you got?” His hobbies vary widely and include collecting guns and knives, bird hunting, his ownership of 20 Tennessee Walking Horses, photography (although he enjoyed it more before digital photography became popular), and a love of all kinds of music. For 10 years, Wellons was even part of a rhythm and blues band (named the Men of Distinction) that headlined for numerous Motown groups.

His favorite place to relax is at a family farm in Falcon, NC. There he can hunt, fish and ride his Tennessee Walking Horses. Wellons also said he relaxes when he rides motorcycles, which he has been doing since he was 18 years old. A partner and owner in two Harley Davidson dealerships, Wellons said he has had two very memorable vacations. The first vacation was when he was 20 years old and his dad took his family on a 30-plus day international trip that began in London. Wellons and his family traveled as far east as Moscow, as far south as Cairo and ended the trip in Switzerland with stops along the way that included Paris, Warsaw, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Rome and Athens.

His other memorable vacation was when he and one of his best friends rode 12,680 miles over the course of 40 days…on motorcycles! Their route began in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where they traveled into parts of Canada, then back into the United States where they journeyed across the northern states of the United States, back into Canada and then to California. Then after making several other stops that included Lake Tahoe and the Salt Lake Flats, they traveled to Milwaukee and joined 350,000 people for the 100th anniversary celebration of Harley Davidson.

In spite of the fact that it sounds like Wellons has “done it all,” he actually does have something left on his bucket list. He would like to rent a house and spend a couple of weeks in a village on the coast of Italy.

Some of the best advice Wellons ever received came from his dad. Wellons stated that throughout his life, he was always worried about his competition. However, Wellons said his dad told him that if he got up before everyone else and if he worked harder than everyone else, he would beat the competition every time. Wellons also said his dad would not ever accept the words, “I can’t.” According to Wellons, that mentality has given him a positive attitude that he could do what he wanted to do. Lastly, Wellons’ dad told him, “Put God first, family second, work hard, and you’ll be a good man.”

Wellons has several life accomplishments of which he is proud. First, he is an Eagle Scout. Second, he is the only one in his family who graduated college. He is also proud of his accomplishments as a businessman. Finally, Wellons said he is proud of his hard-working wife, who has owned her own hair salon for 28 years, as well as his two sons and one daughter.

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Spotlight on Community College Leaders: Wayne Community College Trustee Veda McNair

Posted on: April 14th, 2020 by Caroline Hipple No Comments

Spotlight on Community College Leaders: Wayne Community College Trustee Veda McNair

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

Veda McNair, known around Spring Creek High School as “The Main Thing Lady” because she encourages her Success Coach students to keep education as “the main thing” in their lives, often suggests the community college as an option for students after graduation. McNair has been employed in the education field for more than 40 years. A former elementary school principal, McNair says she often runs into students she knew growing up in the schools where she was principal. Many former students would often tell her that Wayne Community College had played a large part of their education beyond high school. This is when her interest in community colleges began. Therefore, in 2005, when McNair was asked to serve on Wayne Community College’s Board of Trustees, she was more than happy to oblige.

McNair said that being on Wayne Community College’s board has allowed her to see “the other side” of community colleges—not just how they educate their communities. Being a trustee has shown her how community colleges partner with local businesses, school systems, military bases, and communities. It’s also shown her how the colleges can affect local economies and economic development. “When I see [these] partnerships, I feel a sense of pride that I’m a part of this,” said McNair.

“The community college is probably one of the best kept secrets” [in education], according to McNair. While she is appreciative of the support community colleges receive from local and state governments, she feels the value of our community colleges sometimes isn’t realized by our citizenry and those who hold the purse strings. That has surprised McNair during her time as a trustee. She said some of our citizens and leaders do not realize the impact our community colleges have getting our citizens trained and qualified to go into the workforce. According to McNair, community college transfer students out-perform their counterparts at four-year colleges. She also states that Wayne Community College, in particular, has very high completion rates for programs offered.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, McNair has been concerned about funding for salary increases. “We are lagging behind other educational institutions. If we’re going to keep high-level faculty, we’re going to need to pay them accordingly,” she says. Salary increases for faculty and staff is one of the top two issues she sees facing North Carolina community colleges right now. The other issue she sees is that community colleges need support for programs like the Guided Pathways Initiative that can get students trained and educated so they can go into the workforce. (For more information on these programs, go to https://www.pathwaysresources.org/.)

North Carolina’s community colleges are important to McNair because they offer an “extremely quality education at an extremely affordable price. The cost to attend community colleges is much lower compared to four-year colleges—and in some cases you can go right into the workforce with the training you need,” says McNair.

The pride McNair feels about Wayne Community College can easily be heard in her voice when she speaks about the school. She says that since the COVID-19 virus, she has been proud to see how everyone at the college is so prepared for this pandemic. McNair said the college has sanitized the facility and has plans in place to provide instruction remotely for students. She said they are discussing how the students who do not have internet access or computers can still receive instruction. She also said there are plans in place so that employees can work and be paid. McNair stated, “This took a lot of advance planning on the part of the administration under the leadership of our most capable president, Dr. Thomas Walker.”

McNair said she is most proud of the high level of performance by the students at Wayne Community College. In essence, she is proud of Wayne Community College’s “report card,” stating that its “performance data is great, especially when compared to colleges of a similar size.”

Advancements McNair would like to see at the college include completing two building projects, one of which has already begun. Even in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school is making sure construction continues on its new automotive building (while being consistent with social distancing requirements, of course). The school also has plans for an advanced manufacturing center. This project has not yet begun. However, McNair is hopeful that work on that project will begin as soon as the automotive building is completed.

As with most, if not all community colleges, McNair would also like to see enrollment increase, as well as expansion of the early middle college. She would love for the colleges to offer different programs that include a lot of training for high school students, whom she believes greatly benefit from this program.

To any new trustees out there, McNair offers this advice: “Be like a sponge and soak up as much information as you can. Go to committee meetings, board meetings, and functions and be an advocate for [your] college.” To be able to make informed decisions, McNair suggests asking questions at committee meetings and getting college staff (including the president) to clarify items that need to be further explained.

When she is not attending to college business, McNair enjoys exercising. She also enjoys doing things for her husband, who is not physically able to help with some of the day-to-day operations of the house like cooking. Additionally, McNair enjoys traveling and music; she even sings and plays a little piano.

To unwind, McNair loves bargain shopping. She admits that she takes great satisfaction in competing for a good bargain, be it furniture or clothes. When she visits places outside of her Goldsboro home, she enjoys finding a great deal on something that she can remember that visit by. However, it must be “at a real good price!”

McNair’s best vacation ever was in 2015 when she and a group of high school students visited five European countries. This was her second visit to Europe; she had gone previously in 2008. However, she really enjoyed the 2015 trip because she was visiting places where she could not be reached by phone; nor could she reach others. She says the trip was the “thrill of her life.” McNair’s bucket list does not include visiting anywhere new, but rather she would like to learn to swim and to improve her piano playing.

The best advice McNair has ever received came from a college professor. She says that following this advice is critical to being a good leader. His advice was, “Separate the trivial many from the critical few.” McNair also appreciated advice shared by Ron Edmonds, an educator and researcher of essential qualities of effective schools. Edmonds’ advice was this: “We already know enough about how to effectively educate all children. The question is: Why so far we haven’t?” McNair likes this advice because it makes educators reflect on the practices used and consider if they have used all the available tools to help children learn.

A few things “The Main Thing Lady” is proud of include her career in education (which also included the little-known fact that McNair coauthored an article on new teacher training for a national journal on staff development) and the many lives she has touched during her career. Additionally, she is proud to be a member of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, a professional honorary society of women educators.

McNair has been married to her pastor husband for almost 44 years. She has two grown children—a daughter and a son—and one grandchild.