North Carolina Community Colleges Receive Funding for Biosciences


At the penultimate 2022 State Council of Community Colleges meeting, Council members allocated more than $16 million to support the bioscience industry, slated for year one implementation of the new strategic planand discussed the search for a system chair.

“We are entering a very exciting time on this Board in terms of governance and strategic planning,” said Ann Whitford, Chair of the Board’s Strategic Planning Committee. “I am really happy and proud of the progress made by our Board of Directors. »

The Board approved the allocation of nearly $16.5 million to 10 community colleges and the system office to support the bioscience industry sector under the Regional Build Back Better Challenge Grant of the Economic Development Administration of the United States Department of Commerce. Fifteen million will go to the 10 colleges and $1.4 million will be retained by the system office to administer the grant.

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Since 2020, 73 life sciences companies have announced plans to locate or expand operations in North Carolina, the council said, citing data from the NC Biotechnology Center. This equates to nearly 11,200 new jobs and over $8.39 billion in investment.

The system will work with BioNetworkthe North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) Life Sciences Training Initiative, to “improve and update training facilities for the biotechnology and life sciences industry, recruit industry trainers, recruit students from excluded populations, and update and improve the curriculum,” the system said. in an email.

Among other things, the grant focuses on equitable outcomes, building the capacity of training labs, and increasing the number of trained teachers. Previously, Johnston Community Collegeone of 10 grant recipients, told EdNC that he plans to use some of the funds to move to a complete simulated biotechnology learning process.

“Both of our action items were actually very exciting,” said Finance Committee Chair Lisa Estep, referring to the Build Back Better funds and a second grant, the US Department of Labor. Apprenticeship Building America (ABA) Grant Program. The board approved $4 million from the ABA grant to expand recorded apprenticeships across North Carolina. ApprenticeshipNC is the state apprenticeship agency for North Carolina and served 13,377 attendees last year.

The goal of the ABA grant program is to meet the current and future need for skilled labor in the state. The committee noted the link between this grant and the economic and workforce development theme of the strategic plan. Funds are available from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2026 and are expected to be committed by June 30, 2025.

“As we look at the strategic plan, I think that’s an area we should explore further, because at some point that money is going to run out,” board member Tom Looney said. “It’s seed money. We need to show these companies that they’re going to get a big return on it.

Regarding the new four-year strategic plan, which the Council adopted in October, Whitford briefly outlined a 2023 “implementation plan” of the goals. This document outlines 12 “tactics” to help achieve the five defined objectives of the strategic plan with several tactics under each objective.

Presidential search

Earlier this month, the board voted on a vendor to seek a new NCCCS chair, search committee co-chair Shirley Carraway said. The committee will meet with this supplier once the company has been approved by the Department of State Administration. At that time, the company’s name will be made public, the system said.

The presidential search committee then meets on November 30. Going forward, the committee will establish an official presidential profile for the search using data from a statewide survey and the hired search firm. The board received more than 1,300 responses to its survey, the system said, and aims to hire a new chair in the spring. You can read more about the presidential search schedule here.

“Company selection will have a critical impact on the search timeline and ultimately the speed at which we can acquire a new president,” Carraway said in September. “This is the beginning of this process.”

Governance of the Council of State and legislative program

The Board approved a 107-page State Council Handbook after approving updated committee charters in October.

The work of streamlining governance structures is part of the Board’s three-year development and engagement plan. The Board approved the recommendations for the plan in April based on the results of its first self-assessment survey.

Staff said the plan is to deliver the manual to members in January in a three-ring binder so the pages can be easily replaced as updates are made. Council members on Friday requested that the handbook contain additional information about the legislature and the state budget process.

“I appreciate all of the hard work that has gone into this project,” said Board Chairman Burr Sullivan. “This is going to make the assimilation of new board members much, much easier than it has been in the past.”

Board Vice Chairman Bill McBrayer encouraged members to reach out to lawmakers ahead of the long session ahead. Last month, the Board reviewed the second year of its 2022-2025 fiscal year legislative programwhich targets an increase in state funding of $232 million over the next two years. McBrayer said the board will continue to talk about this agenda in the coming months.

The requested increase is linked to teachers’ salaries and student investments. The agenda approved in January 2022 called for an additional 1% salary increase for employees and a 4% increase for student investment in the 2022-23 short term. The community college system received the 1% wage increase for employees in the budget voted by the legislature at the beginning of July but did not receive the 4% increase for student investment.

“This discussion will continue as we get closer to the long session,” Sullivan told the Council in October. “But we all need to commit to staying the course on these two components to earn $232 million so that we can expand our reach over the next two years.”

Other meeting business

  • The Board approved a new program to Richmond Community College for communication and operation of 911, noting that the program is an example of how community colleges are working with local and state partners to ensure the state has a strong labor supply . This program is new to the system.
  • The board also approved the addition of a surgical technology program to Community College of Southern Piedmont from spring 2023. Of the 10 colleges that sent an impact assessment report to Piedmont South, only Central Piedmont Community College said he was not in favor of adding the program.
  • The Board approved Dr. Patrena B. Elliott as the new Chair of Halifax Community College and a new interim president at Sandhills Community College. The board also endorsed five candidates for president of Johnston Community College; a finalist is expected to be named next month.
  • The Board approved the creation of four new positions in the system, funded by Build Back Better: a Grants Manager, a Curriculum Developer, an E-Learning Developer and a Virtual Reality Developer.
  • The 2021-22 financial year report for the NC Community College Child Care Grant Program was presented to the Council.
  • Board members highlighted the need for mental health interventions for students. “It’s not something that’s going to go away on its own,” Sullivan said.

The full Board of Directors will meet on Friday, December 16. The meeting will likely be virtual and the committees do not plan to meet.

Hannah McClellan

Hannah McClellan is an EducationNC reporter covering community colleges, post-secondary access, and faith.


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