2 min read April 2021 — President of Central Carolina Community College Lisa Chapman believes a community college’s role is to support and drive economic success and economic opportunity. She spoke with Invest: about the college’s offerings, specifically underscoring the institution’s commitment to helping the community and helping the economy grow by bringing the business community into the discussion about education.
What are some highlights and takeaways from 2020?
I’ve been here two years, which is really more accurately described as a year and a pandemic. We’ve learned a lot, now the question is where do we go with that moving forward? Our student persistence only slightly dropped during this past year thanks to the phenomenal work our employees have been doing. However, we know there are potential students who didn’t engage with us this year who would likely have come through our doors, absent the pandemic. This area has been very successful in attracting new employers and supporting expansion of employers who are already here. As a result, there are a lot of good jobs coming to our area. We want to ensure that our local residents have an opportunity to take advantage of that employment pipeline. We need to connect with those missed potential students and assist them in that employment pipeline preparation. We are the community’s college and we are here to ensure we maintain economic success and deliberately support economic opportunity, and we’re proud to serve our residents and our employers in this work.
How do your programs reflect the needs of the local economy?
Some of the areas in which we are growing everyday include biotechnology, construction, industrial services and healthcare. Educational and career pathways that include alignment among our K-12 partners and our university partners are designed to address local and regional employer talent requirements. We meet with employers to make sure we’re meeting their needs through these designed pathways as well as through customized training that may be for a specific company that’s expanding or coming here. We’re committed to workforce training. We are a one-stop shop for anyone who is looking for a specific kind of training or education. We want our students and employer partners to know that, and there’s no way we could do that without the exceptional collaboration occurring among our community partners.
How do you engage students to match them with their career?
We make sure the students have a good understanding of what’s available when they come to us and what’s necessary and possible in order to get through their career with us and to wherever they want to go. When I get the chance to talk with our students face-to-face, I tell them about the investment this community is making in them—the students. North Carolina’s dual enrollment option is pathway-designed which means students don’t waste their time taking courses that don’t count toward something. In our high schools, we have college employees who are career coaches who start mentoring students at the high school level. Our community’s investment is this: if the students successfully complete the dual enrollment option during their high school time, they’ll already have credits with us and will already be on the pathway and will have up to two years of free tuition based on the support of the counties. As I stated, we have phenomenal partners here who believe in investing in future talent.
What are your near-term priorities?
Our priority is to engage those students who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. We’re developing different strategies and improving those that we have in place to ensure that we’re going to be able to reach those students; that they’ll have the resources they need; that they’ll know the opportunities available to them. Our priority is to help them. This college believes in equitable pathways to achievable dreams. That’s what we’ll be working on. To make that happen, we’ve got some folks we need to reach and help. We understand our responsibility in meeting that pipeline need and we’ll ensure we’re doing what we need to. As far as our outlook with the partnerships that we have, I’m excited every day to come in and see what new opportunities there will be.
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