The North Carolina Community College System’s Student Success Center (SSC) and Racial Equity in Adult Credentialing in Higher Ed (REACH) Collaborative hosted the inaugural Solutions Summit at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s Watson School of Education last month.
The Student Success Center helps community colleges implement large-scale, institution-wide changes to increase degree and program completion rates across the state while REACH is focused on transforming credential pathways to associate degrees at community colleges to improve credential attainment and economic mobility for adult learners of color.
The purpose of the summit was to improve institutional synergy by aligning and strengthening REACH and Guided Pathways teams at community colleges across the state, while also planning institutional transformation projects for the 2023-2024 academic year.
“The Solutions Summit enabled us to start modelling how we want to support colleges through convening. We want to give college teams time and space to work on problems that are important to their communities, while connecting them to subject matter experts to help them develop impactful solutions. This is a model we plan to continue into the future,” said Dr. Patrick Crane, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the North Carolina Community College System.
The Center utilizes convenings like the summit to connect community college leaders across institutions to new resources and ways of doing work that directly increase student completion rates, close equity gaps, and strengthen communities.
“This event gave us an opportunity to learn from each other as we work to break down silos and promote collaboration among our dedicated teams,” said Dr. Andrea Crowley, Executive Director of the North Carolina Student Success Center. “Our teams investigated how different institutional initiatives overlap to identify synergies and opportunities for improving institutional effectiveness.”
More than 120 faculty, staff and administrators from 27 community colleges gathered in-person and online for the summit, which was facilitated by Dr. Denise Henning, Director of the UNCW/3C Collaborative and Community College Leadership Program. She challenged attendees to identify opportunities for transformation, identify needed data, set metrics for achievement, and collaborate with other colleges.
“The Solutions Summit was invaluable to our REACH and Guided Pathways team,” said Wes Hill, Dean of Continuing Education at Wilson Community College. “The dedicated working sessions, brainstorming and networking with colleagues, cultural discussions and PRISM Brain Mapping exercises truly allowed us to celebrate our successes, identify our opportunities, design our aspirations, and drive our results. As a direct outcome of our team’s work at the Summit, we will begin implementing a new plan to transition our Basic Skills students to curriculum and continuing education programs beginning in December.”
The next Solutions Summit will be in late 2024.