RALEIGH (Aug. 2, 2017) – The sudden departure of NC Community College System President Jimmie Williamson1 is yet another jolt to North Carolina higher education systems that have seen their share of leadership changes in recent years.

As we said in a recent post,2 community colleges are the Swiss Army knives of higher ed:

  • They provide equivalency degree instruction for students who haven’t completed high school;
  • They prepare students for a four-year institution and, after repeated increases in university tuition, are increasingly seen as an affordable place to start;
  • They provide critical training in trades such as welding, electrical work and plumbing;
  • They provide training for law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and nurses;
  • They provide continuing education for adults who have completed their degrees;
  • And they provide customized training or retraining for specific industries or companies.

We still don’t know the reasons behind President Williamson’s departure. But we hope the next president is familiar with the 58-college system and understands those diverse and vital functions.

That’s critical, because some 65% of U.S. jobs are projected to require post-secondary training or education by 2020,3 and 40% of North Carolina workers attended a state community college in the past 10 years.4

We also hope the next president is adept at dealing with the NC General Assembly – that’s a critical part of making sure community college remains affordable for North Carolina citizens.

1 http://www.nccommunitycolleges.edu/news-center/news/president-nc-community-colleges-steps-down; http://www.wral.com/nc-community-college-system-president-resigns/16851902/.
2 http://www.higheredworksfoundation.org/2017/07/community-colleges-crucial/.
3 https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Recovery2020.ES_.Web_.pdf.
4 http://www.nccommunitycolleges.edu/get-facts.

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