North Carolina State Senator Gene McLaurin, State Representative Ken Goodman and State Representative Garland Pierce joined trustees and administrators at the annual legislative breakfast at Richmond Community College in Cole Auditorium on Monday morning.
Those in attendance discussed the college’s success and the concerns of college leaders.
“It was a good opportunity for Representative Pierce, Representative Goodman and I to hear from RCC on various issues …,” McLaurin said.
“McInnis and his team have done a tremendous job out there,” Goodman said.
RCC President Dale McInnis said the college has continued to increase in enrollment over the past few years. He attributed the college’s success to partnerships with public schools, an increase in enrollment of high school and recent high school graduates, and the introduction of new programs.
Goodman said that it was a great meeting and, “Gave us a chance to speak back and forth … .”
“We need to let them know we support them and that their concerns are our concerns,” Goodman said.
McInnis said that the college has reinvested its enrollment funds into a highly qualified faculty that is comparable to what would be found at a university.
Discussions about the opportunities community colleges provide students were followed by discussions about receiving more equitable funding for community colleges.
According to a statement released by RCC, community colleges are typically funded less than universities and are challenged with the mission of serving both students who want to go directly into the workforce and those who want to continue their education at the university level.
McInnis asked for support of the community college system’s plan for performance funding, which rewards colleges for meeting set criteria ranging from retention to the success of students on licensure exams or on how well they perform when they transfer to universities.
He also asked for year-round funding and explained how some programs require students to attend classes during the summer. The college does not earn funding credit during summer semesters, which makes it challenging to draw funds from other needs so that students taking summer classes can pay the same tuition for these courses as they do for courses offered during fall and spring semesters.
McInnis said, to the legislators, that having experienced $2.8 million in budget cuts over the past three years, the college has become as lean and efficient as it can be and still meet the needs of students.
McInnis asked the lawmakers to always remember students and to determine where they fit into the equation when making decisions.
“This morning’s briefing was successful because RCC’s and our students’ needs and issues are embraced by our trustees and our legislators. Representative Goodman, Representative Pierce, and Senator McLaurin are in regular contact with us, so they were well informed and very supportive of our college,” McInnis said.
“I’m really excited about what I heard this morning,” Pierce said.
Pierce said that McInnis articulated the issues well and, “I fully understood what he was talking about.”
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.