Reporter’s notebook

  • $25M gift to Belk Center
  • Building a stronger transfer pipeline to highly selective institutions
  • Florida complex named training site for SRO association
  • New program aims to address cable industry labor shortages
  • New Mexico college offers ‘talking book’ service for visually impaired

$25M gift to Belk Center

The Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research at North Carolina State University has received a $25 million investment from the John M. Belk Endowment to continue its work over the next decade.

The foundation in 2018 provided an initial grant of $10.8 million to launch the center to develop a pipeline of talented community college leaders in North Carolina. The new donation provides the funding to continue the work for another 10 years.

“That gift has allowed us to ensure the ongoing preparation of strong community college leaders who are able to effectively address evolving labor markets and meet the state’s future workforce needs,” NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement. “Today, we get to celebrate again.”

Building a stronger transfer pipeline to highly selective institutions

A new initiative aims to expand the transfer pipeline of high-achieving community college students to about a dozen highly selective four-year institutions.

The Transfer Scholars Network (TSN) focuses on connecting diverse community college students with high GPAs with admissions representatives from 14 colleges and universities and providing support to them through the transfer application process. Eight community colleges are currently participating in the initiative, which started in 2021 as a pilot program. The goal is to include more two- and four-year institutions.

The initiative is run by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program with the support of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

“Even in its earliest stages, the initiative shows promise in diversifying the student pipeline at our nation’s top universities,” says a release from Aspen. “After its first full admissions cycle in Spring 2022, at least 20 percent of TSN students who applied to four-year partner colleges received offers of admission, outpacing the average admission rate of 15.6 percent at these schools.”

Florida complex named training site for SRO association

Indian River State College (IRSC), which houses an advanced public safety training complex, is now a permanent official training location for the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO).

In addition to in-person training at IRSC’s Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex, the Florida college and NASRO plan to develop online coursework, which will reduce the cost of some of the courses, according to IRSC. Classes will begin next summer.

The college says the partnership is a critical expansion of programming for first responders in south Florida and beyond, especially those responsible for the safety and security of students and educators. In 2021, IRSC introduced Future Educators Response to Emergency Situations (FERTES), a program providing IRSC bachelor’s in education students the skills and tools needed in an active shooter situation.

New program aims to address cable industry labor shortages

A leading company in broadband and media distribution aims to work more closely with community colleges and vocational training centers to help train for technicians in the cable industry, which is facing several labor shortages.

ATX Networks on Thursday unveiled its “Field Personnel Replenishment Program,” which adds another four to eight weeks of cable-specific training to an electrical lineworker training program, such as proficiency in coax and fiber splicing, meter reading and other skills needed to upgrade and maintain cable plants.

According to ATX, many cable operators have been pressed into accelerating plant upgrades in the face of broadband infrastructure expansion, which is further straining its workforce challenges.

New Mexico college offers ‘talking book’ service for visually impaired

Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) has partnered with the New Mexico State Library to offer access to a Scribe Mini Station for individuals eligible for blind and print-disabled services to enable them to download audio books. SFCC’s library is the first academic library in the country to offer the “talking book” service.

The service will be available to eligible members of the public. The college expects most people seeking the service will come from areas near the college, but it also anticipates customers from nearby communities and underserved rural areas.

“We hope this partnership will help expand access for individuals who might not otherwise know they qualify,” said Sam Lundberg, a reader advisor for New Mexico State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.