Welcome to the 2014 North Carolina Community College System Conference, which this year is focusing on the important theme of Pathways to Success: 21st Century Teaching, Learning and Student Support.
North Carolina Community College faculty and staff have gained recent acclaim for being leaders in propelling our institutions forward to rethink student success. No longer do we believe it sufficient to simply provide access to quality and economically affordable higher education. We simultaneously must strive for each of our students to achieve the goals that lead to their success, whether that be obtaining a new job or moving forward in a career path, or reaching a next educational goal with a senior institution.
We have learned that rethinking our emphases of both access and success means no longer thinking in the context of courses, credits and discrete interventions. Instead it requires more systemic thinking from each of us about coherent pathways, where each step furthers a student's attainment to a meaningful goal.
Thus the importance of the Pathways to Success theme for this year's conference. Today we realize each of our students is on a pathway. We want to ensure, however, that as few students as possible are ambling in academic circles or wandering through the curriculum on a pathway that may lead to nowhere.
While many of us are thinking in different ways about student success than we did a few years ago, we also know that the basics remain the same. Engaged learning opportunities, effective teaching and strong, integrated student supports are the non-negotiable fundamentals to student success. These are the meaningful interactions that take place in labs and classrooms, in engaged on-line settings and in counselling offices and conference rooms that define the student experience and can either propel our students forward with focused motivation or alternatively confuse and discourage them.
I want to thank each of you for the significant efforts you make to propel our students forward, both with your individual student interactions and collective work with your colleagues to create coherent pathways. Your participation in this important conference is another example of the important ways community college faculty and staff are making a real difference by furthering the road to success for our students, our communities and our state.
Dr. Scott Ralls
NC Community College System