Triad Today: Chancellor Gilliam on the future of higher education

Triad Today: Chancellor Gilliam on the future of higher education

September 16, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


[Music] Hello everyone, I’m Jim Longworth and welcome
to a special edition of Triad Today. Over the next half hour we’ll discuss the
state of higher education in our area, with leaders from three great colleges and universities. They are: Dr. Elwood Robinson, Chancellor
at Winston-Salem State University; Dr. Bob Shackleford, President of Randolph Community College and;
Dr. Frank Gilliam, Chancellor of UNCG. Throughout the program we’ll also feature
videos from each campus, so before we begin our discussion, here’s a look at UNCG. [Music] I can tell you that I came to UNCG just on
an instinct. It was the only place that felt right. And it wasn’t just the nature, it wasn’t
just the people. There was this energy around the campus of “we’re here to have fun
and we’re here to socialize but we’re here to work and we’re here to make change
and we’re here to do big things.” Some of the changes I’ve seen in myself since
I’ve been here at UNCG is just I’ve been really challenged. I’ve been really encouraged to come out
of my comfort zone. We value our students. We want to see our students succeed. We want them, while they’re having their
experience here, to be exposed to what it’s like to interact with students from different
cultures, what it’s like to be a critical thinker. At my school before I felt like I was just
a number. Here though, my professors know me by name. I have a voice and they know who I am. As a professor, what I feel is most important
is to find that passion. [Music] All right back now and as we – nice look at
UNCG by the way, we thank them for that video. Let’s start our discussion and lets
start with sort of an overview guys. A medical doctor can tell us what shape a
patient’s in. So I want you to – sort of like you were
a doctor here – tell us what shape the university’s in and give us sort of a progress report. Elwood you go first. I think we’re in very good shape and I think
that’s because of our school of Health Sciences, you know we have our nursing program
and that keeps us all healthy. So from a doctor’s perspective I think we’re
okay. That’s a good analogy. Jim we are entering into our second year of
a five-year strategic plan. We started out seven or eight years kind of
what kind of institution we really want to be and what do we want to teach out students
and prepare them for the next workforce. We’ve done that. That strategic plan has allowed us to move
the metrics in so many ways. Our retention and graduation rates have improved,
folks have become more engaged with the university because of the outcomes of our students. We
make a tremendous impact on this area – the Triad – almost $280 million our students
pumping to the Triad area. And a big employer too. Yeah a big…well we are a big employer for
Winston-Salem so I think we’re in good shape. Bob, give us a progress report on Randolph
Community College. Well things are going very well by any measure
that you would pick. Enrollment is going very well. We’re the only community college in the
Triad that gained enrollment this year. Usually community college enrollment goes
up and down with the economy. When the economy is down we’re up, when
the economy is up we’re down but we’ve been able to maintain and grow. We’re building facilities, adding programs.
Students are succeeding, they’re getting jobs – they’re getting well paying jobs,
and I don’t know it just seems like more than any place that I’ve ever been people
are committed to the mission that we have. Our mission at RCC is creating opportunities
and changing lives. And when I watch people come in in the morning
I know that’s why they’re coming in. And you have a great team. There have been some of them on the show. We have a great team and it’s just I love
getting out of the car and coming to work everyday. Frank. Well, the health of the patient is robust
at UNCG, particularly given that the patient is 125 years old. Yeah, same as Elwood. We’re looking pretty good. Much like Bob, enrollments are up – the
third straight year and projected to go up again next year. We continue to expand the physical plant and
continue to expand our academic offerings. And now we’re much more engaged in the community
than we’ve been. As you know, we have developed the Union Square
Campus in south downtown. We are developing along Gate City Blvd and
in fact we will hope that next month to be granted Millenium Campus status on Tate Street. Now what would that mean for the audience
that doesn’t know? So what it means is that it allows us to enter
into partnership with the private sector and it exempts us from the Umstead Act, which
forbids us from competing with the private sector. And for those that don’t know, the Umstead
Act, which I’m glad you brought that up. Because if somebody wants to make air conditioners
or something then there’s four local contractors they don’t want you or Bob or Elwood sending people over to make air
conditioners to compete with the local guy. Exactly, so you don’t want the taxpayers’
money to be used to compete against the taxpayer. Right, but the Millenium Status will give
you some leeway on that. It gives us leeway and allows us to enter
into partnership with the private sector. It allows us to enter the business directly with
the private sector, which we’ve not been able to do before so we can extend ground
leases, we can do mixed-use, we can do any number of things as long as it’s consistent with
the mission of the campus. Just a few seconds left in this so I’ll
go to Bob and Elwood speaking of economic impact, you have a lot of that from Randolph
in the Asheboro area right? We have a lot of economic impact. In fact I was in a Chamber retreat, a Chamber
of Commerce retreat just a few months ago and the city manager of Asheboro asked about 100 people
to repeat what is the biggest economic rival in Randolph County. Someone said the North Carolina Zoo, he said
absolutely not it’s Randolph Community College. Right, and you already alluded to the impact
that you guys are having at Winston Salem State it’s tremendous. It’s tremendous in the area – in the Triad
area – around this community. As this community and this city begins to
reimagine itself it knows the impact that Winston-Salem State has on this economy in
terms of producing the next workforce. We are all over it. All right, when we come back we’re going to talk about
making college relevant, and we’ll do that with our three special guests in just a moment. [Music] Join me, weekday mornings, 6-10 on WSJS, for the latest news, weather, sports and traffic. 600 WSJS and WSJS.com. [Music] Back now on Triad Today. Let’s watch a
video from Winston-Salem State University. Then we’ll resume our discussion. I’m passionate about making life better
for the next generation. I want to make my own money. I want to be my own boss. So that’s why I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It’s difficult to look out and see people
who are suffering. Maybe in the social injustices or economic
injustices and to not feel compelled to do something. Winston-Salem State University is truly family. It’s like a real sense of community and
a real sense of love like a big family that we have. WSSU is definitely my home. It’s my second home. So many people come from different backgrounds
but we have a shared cultural experience. I got to come to a place where I’m a majority. It kind of makes you really get into who you
are as an African-American to really find out what makes you set yourself apart from
just being your color. If you have any real hopes or dreams or have
these things that you have in the back of your mind, you say well, maybe one day it can
happen. There’s no better place than Winston-Salem State University that helps to bring those things that you know is on the inside, pull
those things out. I will always be a ram. No matter what. Back now with our panel from UNCG, Winston-Salem State, and Randolph Community College. Gentleman: No matter whether you’re in the community
college setting or the university setting all of you, I know, and I’m not putting words
in your mouth, but you want your graduates to be successful, I think that’s a given. So, the question here is, how are you making
curriculum relevant to the marketplace, to the needs of our industry, making it so that
you do sort of ensure that success? And I know each of you will come at it from
a little bit of a different angle but I want to pick your brain on that. Elwood, you start. One of the first things that I did when I
got to Winston-Salem State and thinking about what the new strategic plan was, I had conversations
with business leaders, educational leaders, politicians about where the city was going. So I wanted to make sure that Winston-Salem
State was in lock step with the industry. We asked folks when you get a graduate from
Winston Salem State, how do you want them to function? And what kind of skill sets they need in order
to be successful in your business. So we began working tremendously with our
faculty, staff to redesign our curriculum around teaching these essential skills to
students. You know, the classic liberal education. People used to think about liberal arts but
we expanded that into liberal education because the marketplace is ever changing so you want
students to come out of your institutions who are flexible in their thought process, being able to be collaborative, working in
groups. The new 21st century workforce. As a result of that, we’ve been extremely
successful in placing our students. Students who graduate from Winston-Salem
State are employed at almost 80% six months after graduation. So that is important. And that’s what’s happened over the past
couple of years? Yes. Great leadership there. Bob. Well, we work very closely, very collaboratively
with business and industry. That’s…we kind of see that as our mission. In fact, I have a different take than I used
to have. I used to think that we’re education and
our customers are our students. I really see it differently now. How do you mean? Our customers are business and industries. Students are our products. We are there to help drive economic and workforce
development. And so when we take students and help them
earn credentials to get them great jobs and careers, we have served both the student, industry and
the economic development of our community. I was giving a tour of a newly elected representative
just a few weeks ago and we went around and he kept asking in every department, “Now how
many of these peoples are going to get jobs?” And our instructors looked at him and said, “Well, all of them!” They’re going to have several job offers. So uh, that’s what we do. Frank, your take? Well, two things: One of the things that’s
great about UNCG is that we have an extremely strong professional schools – so whether
it’s nursing or education or business or health and human sciences. And so, they’re producing young people, really after four years of education who are
ready to enter the marketplace. Whether it’s in audiology or kinesiology
or ed counseling, you go down the list. And then secondly as you know the Connect NC bond is providing resources for new Nursing and Stem building for us. Yeah, and we’re going to get to that in
just a second. I want to find out cause you’re going to
do great things with that but you’re kids also get a chance, and probably this is true
for everybody, to work with business and industry while they’re still there, right? They do and we’re part of Opportunity Greensboro
which is matching businesses with universities in Guilford County to get internships, paid internships. I’d add one other thing, Jim, if I could,
we’re looking at something called the urban humanities corridor and we’re taking the lead
on that. And one of the things that I think has been
misunderstood is the role of the humanities in the workforce development. And I think unfortunately, a little bit is
on us that we’ve said that humanities are for humanities sake – or latin for latin’s
sake – for personal enrichment. And really the very soft skills that Elwood
talks about – critical analysis, reading, writing, working collaborately, able to articulate
publicly – are all things you learn in the humanities. So we’re reframing that as humanities and
workforce development and we’re working with twelve colleges in the area to do that. One other thing – Frank and I have been
involved in a number of discussions about this with our Board of Governors and other
legislatures about that. We talked about creating internships. We have a goal, at Winston-Salem State, that
every student at some point would get involved in an internship. And that’s across all disciplines and majors
and that’s important in terms of preparing the students for the workforce. And you know some other things going on in
Randolph that gives the kids…adults, I keep saying kids… adults a leg up, right Bob? We do. Apprenticeships and internships have become a great big part of what we do. In fact we have industries all over our county
now who were taking students in and what we found out a few years ago was they don’t
just want students who have a degree or credentials, they want a student…a graduate who has a
degree and some experience. They want some experience. So that’s good. When we come back since Frank mentioned Connect NC, I want to explore that a little bit because all three gentlemen are going
to benefit their campuses from that bond that you folks helped pass – the taxpayers did. So we’ll pick up on that in just a minute. [Music] Join me, weekday mornings, 6-10 on WSJS, for the latest news, weather, sports and traffic. 600 WSJS and WSJS.com. [Music] And now we’ll take a quick look at a video from Randolph Community College. Welcome to Randolph Community College, a very
special place where our faculty, staff, administration, and trustees are fully dedicated to the success
of our students and the economic and workforce development for our community. When I was a young boy my mother told me that
I could be anything in the world I wanted to be if I got my education and worked hard. Her constant support and encouragement gave
me the strength to pursue dreams that I never even thought were possible. That’s why I chose to invest my life into
the community college system. To take the gift my mother gave to me and
pass it on to others. I believe that because of the dedication and
hard work of our faculty, staff, and administration you can be anything in the world you want
to be if you get your education and work hard. An accessible, affordable, and high quality
education at the local community college is the very best opportunity that many thousands
of North Carolinians will ever have to earn the credentials and gain the skills they’ll
need to fulfill their life goals and enter into the careers of their dreams. Our students have a remarkable record of success
both at the universities to which many of them transfer and also in the careers they
enter. The reason they succeed is really no secret. It’s due primarily to the following factors: Number one: students at RCC sit in relatively
small classes where their instructors know them individually and are committed to their
success. Number two: on day one and throughout their
studies at RCC students are taught by superbly qualified, fully credentialed, highly dedicated
faculty. Number three: our support services are comprehensive
including financial aid, scholarships, academic advisors, career counselors, mentoring programs,
disability services, tutoring, and early intervention retention services for those who struggle
in class, student success classes, and student workshops on test-taking skills, study skills,
time management, stress management, and other relevant helpful topics. You cannot find a better place to help you
become everything in life that you ever wanted to be. That’s why we’re here. That’s what we do. Welcome to Randolph Community College. [Music] Back now with our panel. Before we get to Connect NC and the infrastructure
that’s going to improve because I don’t want to Chancellor Gilliam for a second because
there was one thing that you wanted to make a point of that I think is relevant to a lot
of what we were talking about, Frank. Well, Opportunity Greensboro is a partnership
between the public sector and the university and private sector. Not only is it designed to give our students
internships, and we can all agree that it is very important, but it’s also designed
to connect them to employers so that they will stay locally. The problem is we’re graduating tens of
thousands of students and they’re leaving North Carolina. And that’s a problem and in many cases their
leaving Winston-Salem, they’re leaving Greensboro, they’re leaving Asheboro and they’re going
to other states and this is going to be a problem ultimately for the future prosperity
of our state. And I think that’s what’s important for
all of our institutions here today because we actually are creating that workforce and
so while a lot of students do go away I think these three institutions that you’re featuring
today do it better than most institutions in providing that workforce. Absolutely. Bob, do you want to add anything to that? Well it’s just that the pathway to prosperity
that we’re involved in right now, which is a collaboration between RCC and our city
and county school system and industry, it’s a three way thing and we have been…we work with
the high schools, RCC, and industry and we have an emphasis every year and the point
is to get them from high school, to RCC, to careers in our community. Yeah, I’m focused. And I want to, remind me, I want to come back
to that later and talk about some of the outreach that is going on but I promised that we were
going to do a quick thing about Connect NC. The taxpayers passed this bond – $2 billion bond – and it went through successfully and its going to mean something
for each of your campuses. Tell me how, Elwood. It’s going to mean about $50 million to
Winston-Salem State University to build a new science complex and we’re excited about
that. We had to reimagine it a little bit after
we received the bond funding because it had been in the works for a while. And you didn’t know if you were going to
get it. Yeah. We didn’t know if we were going to get it
so now that we have it we redesigned the building. We will break ground sometime early summer
for about a 2018, early 2019 move-in date. Bob. We are getting about $5.1 million and
we’re using that plus some other funding to build a new allied health center and this comes out
of that Pathways to Prosperity. Our goal, this year our emphasis has been on health
care careers and so we’re building a new allied health center and getting some new
health programs and it’s designed to get students from our high schools to RCC and this
new allied health center and to great health careers in Randolph county. Frank, Connect NC bond helping UNCG. First of all, I want to thank the taxpayers of North
Carolina for investing in higher education, it means the world. $105 million to replace McIver Hall, which
you and Bob probably remember from your college years. It will be replaced with a new School of Nursing
and new labs. We’re turning away about 100 qualified
nursing students a year and we have a bottleneck for the laboratories for biology and
chemistry. This will solve those problems. We’re not only going to get nurses out there
but we’ll get scientists out there that go to work at EcoLab or LabCorp, wherever. And a direct impact on society. So this is not just brick and mortar this
is brick and mortar that’s having a positive impact, or will have, a positive impact on
learning in general. Jim, it’s not the building, it’s what goes
on inside the building that’s important and this allows, I think in all three cases,
we’re very forward looking programs and activities that will benefit the citizens
of North Carolina. Right. From one kind of funding to another. And when we come back I want to ask these
gentlemen about funding and budgets. We’ll be right back. Music America, let’s do lunch. Drop off a hot meal and say a quick hello. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels by donating your lunch break at AmericaLetsDoLunch.org. [Music] Back now on Triad Today with our special panel
of chancellors and presidents from our area universities – Winston-Salem State University,
Randolph Community College, and UNCG. Gentlemen as we pick back up we talked about
a bond funding that’s helped to build some things on campus, but let’s talk about funding
in general. Now I know some of the folks are going to
say “Wait a minute! I’m turning off this, I’m going to go
get a snack or something I don’t care about funding.” Well, wait a minute. Because there’s a myth out there out in
the public, I think you agree, that taxpayers, you know, they pay their taxes and funds go
to helping you and that’s all you need. You just get the money from the State General
Assembly and that’s all you need for your campuses. Dispel that myth for me. Well I can dispel that myth, because in order
for that to operate we have to extend beyond what we get from the State Appropriation. State appropriations are great and we thank
everybody who works in that area for us but the bottom line is that we need more in order
to carry out the research, in order to carry out the education that you want to make sure
each and every student has. We’re committed to having students get a
first class education. That requires resources to be able to do that. But also, I think, Jim, that for me, you also
have to tell a compelling story for a philanthropist. You need a compelling story about what you’re
doing and making sure that you exercise good stewardship, all the funds that you’re getting, because
universities just can’t exist today without a private fund and donations. Bob? Well the same is true with us. The way the community college is funded is
about 85% of our public funding comes from the state, That’s our operations, faculty, staff, equipment,
and all of that. 15% comes from the county. That’s for facilities and all that. But if we lived on that alone we would just
have to stop where we are and maintain. To move forward, to continue to create opportunities,
to continue to create new career fields in Randolph county we have to have additional
funding and so development has become a great big part of what we do. Development, for the folks at home, is a word
we use for really fundraising. And it didn’t used to be a big issue with
community colleges but it has become a big issue. Frank? Some perspective is a good thing and when
all of us went to the university the state of North Carolina funded 85% or 90% of the
university’s budget. Today it’s around 38% so we have to make
up that shortfall and it used to be the case that presidents, chancellors, deans didn’t
have to be in the fundraising business. Now I’m sure all of us devote a large share
of our time to fundraising. So private philanthropy becomes extremely
important to the success not only to keep us at level but really any attempt to move
forward new programs, ways to enhance a curriculum that we provide to students, and new areas
that we want to expand…we have to find the money outside of the state appropriations
process to do it. And turning out good graduates means they
can also be folks who give from an alumni standpoint and that’s important too. When we come back we’ll wrap up
by talking a little bit about outreach. We’ll be right back. [Music] Join me, weekday mornings, 6-10 on WSJS, for the latest news, weather, sports and traffic. 600 WSJS and WSJS.com. [Music] Well as we wrap up our program on higher education
with our three special guests, I was going to sort of have a theme and let’s talk about
outreach and cooperation but Bob already touched on that working with the public schools and
with each other. I know that to some degree you all work together. So let’s just, however you want to frame
it, get some final thoughts from each of you whether it’s on funding or alumni giving
or outreach. We have a few minutes left. Elwood. I’ll just say that being in higher education
personally is so rewarding because you get an opportunity to work with young folks and
cultivate them and help them develop into great citizens and I find that’s just so
rewarding. I believe that institutions like Winston-Salem
State University are so critical to the survival of our communities and as we think about reimagining
our communities and particularly for Winston- Salem, when we are moving from an industrialized
society to city of arts and innovation. You have to have an innovation that comes
from your colleges and universities. I think that we’re a major player, a major
part of that transformation that’s taking place and we’re getting good results. The community is really beginning to engage more and
more with us, corporations, as well as alumni. Yeah, and that’s, you know, an important
tribute to you and your leadership and also to all three of you too. Bob. Well, I also am very blessed to be where I
am and doing what I do. I feel like we make a difference. We serve about 1/10th of the population of
Randolph County every year. And it’s just a great privilege to be a
part of that. We do have relationships with our K-12. We have wonderful relationships with our Pathways
to Prosperity with our high schools and we also work with universities not only on articulation agreements and our students transfer to both of these universities and
others in the area, but we have a partnership for example with Phifer, where elementary education. teachers can be trained on our campus. We have criminal justice. We’re the Pembroke. So we’ve had programs with these universities
and are open to building further collaborations in the future. Very important cooperation. Frank, final thoughts? I really try to think through what a 21st
century university looks like, particularly a public one and what is it that we do well
and how do we keep doing it, but what do we have to change? I think that one of the things that troubles
me a little bit is that there is a…there are a lot of people who claim to this idea
of a 17th century European university in the 16th century and we have to sort of break
that inertia and say what does it mean in the 21st century to deliver higher education? And I think we’ve learned from some of the
challenges to higher ed, whether it’s MOOCS, the for-profits, or these large sort of
quasi for-profits and we’ve staved off the challenges but now the question is, what
is going to happen? Where is the uber challenge? When will someone figure out how to credential
people without us? And so we have to prevent that from happening
and we have to re-imagine what the university looks like. Well I want to salute all three of you for
all the work you do and the leadership you’re providing. And it’s not just me bragging on you because
we can see the results are happening since you’ve taken over your respective institutions
and I appreciate that and for being here today. Well that’s it for this special edition of
Triad Today. But before we leave you, I’d like to recommend
three websites to visit: www.wssu.edu
www.randolph.edu and www.uncg.edu For all of us here at Triad Today, I’m Jim
Longworth. see you next week. [Music]