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County commissioners and Wilson Community College trustees held a joint meeting Tuesday evening where college President Tim Wright gave an overview of the institution’s successes and challenges as well as opportunities for future growth.
“We touch every segment of society, every segment of educational need,” Wright told the group of leaders.
He said community college staff have been innovative and sought new ways to boost enrollment and meet current and future students’ needs.
Officials said their decisions have been more data-driven, too.
“It’s a lot of people trying a lot of new stuff and it adds up to at least incremental success, which I’m happy to see,” Wright said.
‘ABLE TO OUTPERFORM’
For every 2 percent drop in unemployment, there is typically a 1 percent drop in enrollment for community colleges, officials have said. When more people are working, students often revert to part-time student status because they are trying to fit in college and school around their schedules.
There are two factors in enrollment — headcount, which is the number of students in classes, and full-time equivalent students. Community colleges are funded based on full-time equivalences.
Even though Wilson County’s unemployment rate dropped four points between August 2015 and August 2018, WCC has only seen a 3.5 percent decrease in budget curriculum full-time equivalent losses.
“We were the second in losing the least,” Wright said, comparing WCC to other area community colleges. “Due to the efforts of everyone in this room, we’ve been able to outperform.”
For example, Nash Community College had a 2.4 percent decrease in the unemployment rate but had 11.6 percent in budget curriculum FTE losses.
WCC has also nearly tripled its customized training growth since the 2014-15 school year. The college provides customized training for various companies here. WCC trained nearly 600 people in 2017-18 compared to 206 in 2014-13.
WCC’s Small Business Center has also seen substantial growth, officials said. More people are taking advantage of the center, which provided 80 business education events including seminars in 2018. The center also charted nearly 800 registrations by more than 330 individual attendees.
The center served 150 clients who were interested in either starting or growing a small business, officials said. It also provided more than 300 hours of business-related counseling.
Wright added that the associate of applied science degree in biotechnology curriculum is well underway. WCC will begin its building construction technology program by either the fall of this year or spring of 2020. He said it articulates with East Carolina University’s Bachelor of Science in construction management program.
Wilson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Boyette told Wright and other leaders that WCC’s creativity and flexibility have impressed county officials.
Assistant County Manager Ron Hunt said WCC is one of the community’s greatest assets.
“Having both boards and leadership together helps us all to champion those successes and to explore ways to meet those challenges,” Hunt said.