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National Community College Leaders Collectively Focused on Addressing Post-Pandemic Enrollment Challenges and New Opportunities

The 2023 Dallas Herring Lecture provided community college leaders with a roadmap to transform college structures and move their institutions from ordinary to extraordinary

Raleigh, N.C. –– Community college leaders and educators from around the country gathered in person and virtually Tuesday for the 2023 Dallas Herring Lecture titled Daring to Be Extraordinary: Transforming the Structure of How We Work.  

Dr. Falecia D. Williams, President of Prince George’s Community College

As community colleges nationwide continue to restore operations and enrollment following the pandemic, Dr. Falecia Williams, president of Prince George’s Community College, offered strategies and recommendations for community college leaders to consider in changing the structure of how community colleges work.

“Today, we stand at a crossroads, faced with the profound question: ‘Did the COVID-19 pandemic act as a catastrophe or a catalyst for change?’ This question looms large, especially in the realm of higher education, and community colleges find themselves at the heart of this dilemma,” said Falecia D. Williams, Ed.D., president of Prince George’s Community College. 

According to Community College Daily’s report, two-year community college enrollments are surging after years of dramatic decline during the COVID-19 pandemic. In her presentation, Williams provided bold initiatives that inspired attendees to dare to be extraordinary as institutions pivot and embrace this next chapter. 

“To be extraordinary, we must redefine accessibility. It’s not just about physical proximity; it’s about making information, programs, and environments sensible and usable for as many people as possible,” Williams said.

By outlining the challenges and changes as a result of the pandemic, Williams highlighted the need for innovation and provided examples for community college leaders to choose a path that will take them from ordinary to extraordinary through restructuring to improve greater flexibility and work.

The annual event hosted by the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research addresses urgent and emerging topics – taking an in-depth look at how to approach issues and proposing a path forward in honor of W. Dallas Herring. This year, more than 500 people attended virtually or in person. 

Dr. Shelley White, president of Haywood Community College, and J.B. Buxton, president of Durham Technical Community College, delivered this year’s lecture response.

From left to right: Provost Warwick Arden, President Shelley White, President J.B. Buxton, Karen Stout, Executive Director Audrey J. Jaeger

“Dr. Williams, President Buxton, and President White not only delivered invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing our nation’s community colleges but also illuminated a path forward that inspired everyone in attendance,” says Dr. Audrey Jaeger, the Belk Center’s executive director. “I believe that their wisdom and expertise will play a pivotal role in shaping a brighter future for community colleges, ensuring they remain beacons of accessible education for all students – for the betterment of our communities.”

Watch the 2023 Dallas Herring Lecture here


About the Dallas Herring Lecture

A Rose Hill, N.C. native, W. Dallas Herring made it his life’s work to build a system that would serve all of North Carolina’s residents by preparing them for productive work and active citizenship. Beginning in 1955, he served on the North Carolina State Board of Education for almost 25 years, during which he oversaw the development of a statewide system of technical education institutes that eventually became the North Carolina Community College System. Since 2015, the annual Dallas Herring Lecture has focused on national issues contextualized to North Carolina, inviting top community college leaders to speak on urgent and emerging topics, framing how to address the issues, and proposing a path forward. The impact of the event has grown exponentially over the past several years, and has helped to elevate issues related to community colleges and led to action to address such issues in North Carolina.

About Dr. Falecia Dr. Williams

Dr. Falecia D. Williams is the ninth president of Prince George’s Community College (PGCC), a role she has held since 2020 following more than two decades of progressively responsible leadership positions at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. She is a transformational leader who values learning as much as leading and understands the power of inspiring others. With a proven record of advancing catalytic change in higher education, Dr. Williams demonstrates a covenant to equity and excellence that goes beyond the buzzwords and focuses on helping individuals attain their highest quality of life.  Dr. Williams is currently implementing the Prince George’s Community College strategic plan and its bold new vision, “Dare to Be Extraordinary,” leading the institution toward exemplary outcomes in student learning, workforce attainment, business partnerships, and community engagement. To know Dr. Williams is to be changed for the better. Her transformational servant approach that meets people where they are is a refreshing reminder that effective leadership has always been more about influence than power. Named one of Washington’s Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian, Dr. Williams has been published in the Washington Post and Washington Business Journal for her achievements and is an in-demand keynote speaker throughout the region. 

About the Belk Center

Creating tools, convening leaders, and catalyzing change: the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research works with educators, researchers, and policymakers to further more equitable community college outcomes in North Carolina and across the nation. We equip community college leaders with actionable insights and create opportunities for collaboration as we tackle the most pressing issues facing students and campuses to build stronger, more resilient communities. The Belk Center is housed in the College of Education at North Carolina State University, a land-grant university that shares our commitment to community colleges and the critical role these institutions play in creating and expanding opportunities for all North Carolinians. For more information, please visit

About Prince George’s Community College

Named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance designated by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security (2022-2027), Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) provides high-quality education and training for the progressive and career-oriented residents of Prince George’s County. From new high school graduates and career seekers to more seasoned professionals and senior citizens looking to enhance their skill sets, PGCC is comprised of students who represent a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and goals. Serving nearly 25,000 individuals annually, the College is the first choice for higher education for residents of Prince George’s County. Collaborative partnerships, responsive degree, and training programs, and a commitment to student success enable PGCC to address diverse education and workforce development demands. For more information, visit the College website at Prince George’s Community College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104; (267-284-5000); The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council on Higher Education.