Belk Center Conducts Research Study on the Strategic Plans of NC Community Colleges

The Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research works with North Carolina’s community colleges and leaders to improve student success. To measure progress, it is critical to first capture a snapshot of activities that guide current practices, policies, and procedures at each of the North Carolina community colleges. As part of a broader research agenda to provide a descriptive analysis of executive leadership across North Carolina, this research project focused on the strategic plans developed by the college’s president, leadership team, and stakeholders as of January 2020. Strategic plans offer a unique perspective of the mission, values, and goals that guide a college’s commitment and desired outcomes, including student success. In this study, 55 of 58 strategic plans were collected and analyzed to examine how colleges documented their intent and progress in promoting student success.

Key Findings: 

  • Strategic plans across North Carolina’s community colleges vary in structure, content, and process.
  • An opportunity exists for campuses to engage in planning efforts that align with the goals of the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) and state labor force needs.

Implications for Policy and Practice:

  • Strategic planning is a key skill for executive leaders to develop as it is a critical responsibility for shaping a campus culture that will collectively improve holistic student success.
  • To make statewide progress, similar language and goals should be apparent across all 58 colleges allowing for individualized context to inform metrics and plan implementation that aligned with the NC system wide goals.
  • Colleges have the opportunity to use strategic plans as a means to promote equity in student outcomes. While some colleges indicated goals around equity, many did not address this element of student success.

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