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Rural College Leaders Program

Members of the rural college leaders cohort in group meetings around round tables.

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.

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. 

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

“MTCC’s participation in the Rural College Leaders Program is helping to build change-makers on our new administrative team. As one of the smaller institutions in the ‘Great 58’ [North Carolina community colleges], resources are tight and it is often tough for us to participate in regional and national professional development. Joining the RCLP network has connected our team with national thought leaders who are challenging us to think differently about prioritizing student learning and success in new, innovative ways.”

– Dr. Brian Merritt, President, McDowell Technical Community College