Research to Action

Our research efforts to institute systemic change centers on a transition from the more traditional approaches – which are often jargon-laden and slow to reach decision-makers — to modes of scholarship that are timely, accessible and digestible. The research we conduct addresses community college practitioner needs and provides actionable data that leaders can use to make informed improvements at their institutions. Further, the broader practice-focused research agenda we develop dovetails with continuous institutional improvement efforts at North Carolina community colleges. Our current body of research focuses on key areas:

Through its National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness (NILIE), the Belk Center works with institutions, primarily community colleges, to administer campus climate assessments for the purpose of enhancing institutional effectiveness and student success. NILIE utilizes the PACE: Community College Climate Survey instrument to gather employee perspectives on campus climate and provides institutional leaders with critical information for strategic decision making. In addition, the Home State Initiative (HSIn) is an innovative, collaborative program that bridges NILIE’s mission to support community colleges with NC State’s land grant mission to serve the state of North Carolina. Through HSIn, NILIE provides free data collection, analysis and reporting services to a select set of community colleges in rural areas of North Carolina facing declining enrollment, unsatisfactory student outcomes, and/or challenges with employee recruitment and retention, among other issues.

Finish Line Grants
In September 2019, we co-hosted the Finish Line Grants Symposium program. The support the implementation of a program is designed to provide emergency aid to community college students facing financial challenges.

We examine NC Community Colleges’ processes for using the CARES Act student emergency funds. Current reports:

International Education
We conduct research exploring the types of international education programs and experiences happening at community colleges. Current reports:

Transfer is vital to ensuring the state of North Carolina meets in the statewide attainment goal to increase the number of North Carolinians with credentials. Our  research is focused on the experiences and outcomes of students earning credits at North Carolina community colleges and how those credits are transfer into 4-year institutions. We look a policies such as Career and College Promise, a policy that allows high schools students to earn credit while in high school as well as the impact of articulation agreements, such as the comprehensive articulation agreement.

Along with our research we are also supporting Transfer Working Groups made up of representatives from the NCCCS, UNC System, the Transfer Advisory Committee, and other key stakeholders around transfer in the state to improve the experience of transfer for students. The groups met for the first time in fall of 2020 and will be sharing more details about their priorities in the upcoming months.

Briefs & Reports:

Presidential Pathways
The presidential pathways study is one of three studies that support the Executive Leadership Program at the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research. The purpose of this study is two-fold: first to provide a set of baseline data of the current presidents in the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) as of January 2020 in order to track changes in the leadership over the next several years; second, to analyze the data and identify the educational, experiential and leadership pathways of current presidents. Current report:

Strategic Plans
The Belk Center 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. Current report:

In collaboration with Achieving the Dream (ATD), the Belk Center supports institutional teaching and learning initiatives that further develop faculty-led inclusive instructional practices, supporting community college students as engaged learners. With attention on transforming partner institutions the Center’s work with Teaching and Learning initiatives contributes to creating an atmosphere of inquiry, reflective practices, and continuous improvement across the state of North Carolina.

Current Reports:

Current Policy Briefs:



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