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Rural College Leaders Program

RCLP Event
Rural College Leaders Program hosted by the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research

With support from Ascendium Education Group and Achieving the Dream, the Belk Center launched the Rural College Leaders Program (RCLP) to equip presidents, senior leadership teams and trustees to improve student outcomes and advance equity at their institutions. The three-year, capacity-building initiative offers strategies for removing systemic barriers and closing gaps in institutional completion rates for historically underserved populations, including low-income students and American Indian, Black and Latinx students.

When the program began in 2022, the Belk Center was pleased to offer targeted support for 10 community colleges* serving rural counties in North Carolina:

  • Carteret Community College
  • Catawba Valley Community 
  • College of The Albemarle 
  • Davidson-Davie Community College 
  • Isothermal Community College
  • McDowell Technical Community College 
  • Roanoke-Chowan Community College 
  • Stanly Community College
  • Vance-Granville Community College 
  • Western Piedmont Community College

*Colleges were selected through a written application and formal interview process.

Project support for the RCLP cohort includes leadership training for community college presidents and their senior leadership teams grounded in institutional data on access, enrollment and program completion. 

In 2023, the Belk Center received additional funding from Ascendium Education Group to continue its work supporting rural-serving institutions across the state through the Rural College Leaders Program. This new grant will enable the Belk Center to evaluate the impact of the program and the strategies and best practices being leveraged by participating colleges.

January 2022

Inaugural RCLP cohort is announced

February 2022

Belk Center hosts RCLP cohort presidents and coaches for a program kickoff

September 2022

RCLP cohort convenes in Raleigh to review early data, prioritize student success goals and draft action plans

March 2023

RCLP cohort convenes in Raleigh

October 2023

RCLP convenes to focus on building capacity for evaluation and assessment, connecting program pathways to careers that lead to economic and social mobility, and a discussion of institutional policies that promote equitable student success

March 2024

RCLP cohort convenes for the final session to review action plans and engage in peer learning around program outcomes and next steps.

June 2024

RCLP cohort concludes engagement with data and leadership coaches. Four colleges begin strategic planning engagement in collaboration with the North Carolina Community College System and Dr. Zach Barricklow, Associate Vice President for Strategy and Rural Innovation and Liaison for Rural Engagement and Research for the Belk Center.

“Participating in the Rural College Leaders Program is helping our college put a microscopic lens on data to improve equitable outcomes for all students. The program is also assisting our college in formulating an annual action plan that turns data into workable strategies and creates a college culture where all students can reach their potential.” 

– Dr. Murray Williams, President of Roanoke-Chowan Community College