Each December, you hear it everywhere. “A year in review,” “favorite sports moments of the year,” “best music and films of the year,” and so on. When the end of year approaches, it’s natural to turn back and reflect.
2019 has been a transformative year for Cape Fear Community College; we have so much to be proud of, and so much to look forward to in the coming year. I am honored to work alongside tremendously talented individuals who are affecting not only the lives of our students, but the livelihood of our region.
Here are a few of CFCC's highlights from 2019:
Recovery from Florence
It’s hard to believe it has been over a year since Hurricane Florence. The damage Florence left in its wake prevented numerous students from returning to class. However, the College was fortunate to receive grant funding from the NC Legislature to help students impacted by Florence continue their studies. I am proud to say CFCC distributed $1,242,297 to support these students after the storm.
This effort required unexpected work for our faculty and staff who were dealing with the aftermath of the storm themselves. Because of their diligence, we did not suffer an insurmountable enrollment dip after Florence. In fact, our enrollment was up 5 percent for the fall term and is trending up for the spring term, as well.
In a good economy, community college enrollment typically falls. A robust economy calls for community colleges to shift their focus to programming, recruitment, and marketing efforts that can help sustain enrollment. CFCC has done this masterfully. In 2019, the College helped underemployed area residents train for better careers and University Transfer students obtain the first two years of their four-year degrees with much less debt; we developed short-term programs that gave citizens access to better jobs. Because of these efforts, we have not just maintained enrollment; we’ve increased it.
Electrical Lineworker Program
Last year, we launched our Electrical Lineworker program. This short, affordable training program has been life changing for many students, with 98 percent of graduates starting high-paying jobs upon graduation. CFCC created this program in response to area employer needs. Now, graduates, their families, and our community benefit from this investment.
Expansion in Pender County
CFCC is excited to expand the College’s footprint in Burgaw. We are renovating the former Mojotone facility to house classroom and work space for our Diesel Mechanics, Welding, and HVAC classes, among others. We are more involved in Pender County Schools than we have ever been. In addition to our standard recruiting efforts, our faculty are regularly visiting schools in both Pender and New Hanover counties to connect with students and talk about opportunities available at CFCC.
The Wilson Center
A recent UNCW Cameron School of Business study estimated the Wilson Center’s economic impact at $17 million per year. The Center has enjoyed tremendous success, and that success affects the bottom line for hotels, retailers, and restaurants in the area.
Programming at the Wilson Center also impacts our area. This year, Tony Award winner BD Wong and collaborator Wayne Barker partnered with the Wilson Center to put together a new musical based on the movie Mr. Holland's Opus. Wong and Barker are collaborating with students and teachers in New Hanover County to bring the musical to life.
The Wilson Center also collaborates with local businesses to bring programming to the Port City. Earlier this year, nCino committed to a two-year sponsorship of the MOVE Dance Series. The series provides free-of-charge world-class dance, educational programming and performances to thousands of students in the area, as well as disenfranchised youth, senior citizens, disabled individuals, teachers, and others.
Removal of Roadblocks
In 2019, CFCC emphasized making our enrollment process easier. From completely redesigning our website to updating our admissions policies, we created efficiencies that benefit students. We began offering One Stop Enrollment events one Saturday each month so that people who work or are in school during our typical hours can receive assistance. We also host FAFSA nights, to help students navigate the financial aid application process.
University Transfer Agreements
This year, we introduced two new transfer agreements – the Pirate Promise, which guarantees entry to East Carolina University for CFCC students who successfully complete the program, and SEA-Path, which allows CFCC students who want to transfer to UNC Wilmington to dually enroll at both CFCC and UNCW. By pursuing these agreements with universities all over the state, CFCC invests in our students beyond the walls of our campus and helps to ensure that students’ time and money, at CFCC and beyond, is well spent.
In 2019, our Sea Devils returned home to a completely renovated Schwartz Center. We added 6,000 square feet to the original structure. The new space houses locker rooms, a team room, a training room, and laundry facilities. We remodeled the existing lobby and added locker rooms for visiting teams and referees. We upgraded the floor and installed new bleachers and incorporated storage underneath. Now, the Sea Devils have a beautiful facility in which to practice and play.
Excellence in Instruction
CFCC has a tremendous faculty. Beyond the experience and expertise they bring to the classroom every day, our instructors invest their time and energy in the success of each student. Our students excel, whether they finish at CFCC and begin a new career, or continue their educations at a four-year university. A large part of that success is due to the quality instruction and supportive environment they experience at CFCC.
These are just a few of Cape Fear Community College’s 2019 accomplishments. We have had a wonderfully productive year and each person at CFCC has contributed to our success. Everyone who works at the college understands the value of a great education. We all know that a well-trained, knowledgeable workforce contributes to the prosperity of our entire community. We’re looking forward to a wonderful 2020.
Jim Morton became President of Cape Fear Community College in April 2018. Prior to becoming President, Mr. Morton served as Executive Vice President and as Vice President of Business and Financial Services at CFCC. Cape Fear Community College is the 6th largest community college of the 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System.
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