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April a Time to Consider Value of Community College Education

Ed and Joan Warren Clock Tower on fall day with students in the foreground.

Each April, Pitt Community College participates in a national campaign organized by the Association of Community College Trustees that asks Americans to consider how two-year public institutions of higher learning are positively impacting people’s lives and contributing to the development of a skilled national workforce.

For PCC, “Community College Month” (or #CCMonth) is a chance to make sure the good people of Pitt County and eastern North Carolina are aware of the many programs and services we offer to help them secure gainful employment. It is also an opportunity to dispel stigmas falsely associated with public two-year colleges while highlighting the economic, academic and equity advantages of community college attendance.

More than 60 years ago, our community fully endorsed development of an institution of higher learning committed to preparing a skilled local workforce that would help existing businesses and industries prosper while attracting new economic growth. They got precisely what they were looking for in Pitt Community College.

Today, PCC is North Carolina’s seventh-largest community college. It is a leader in health care training and well known for its outstanding business, industrial, construction, public safety and college transfer curricula. For individuals who never completed high school, Pitt offers programs to help them achieve diplomas or its equivalent credential. For those who do not speak English, we have an English Language Acquisition program. Want to save money on a four-year degree? Take the first two years of general education courses at Pitt.

Public community colleges are a uniquely American educational model designed to give people access to affordable, high-quality higher education. Schools like PCC have something to offer practically every prospective learner, whether it is basic skills classes, personal interest courses, summer camps for youngsters, or hands-on training for the next generation of electricians, HVAC technicians, and automotive repair professionals.

Yet, for all the good community colleges do, many people still believe they are inferior to four-year colleges and universities and a last resort for individuals with no other educational options. I would like to invite everyone to visit PCC’s main campus sometime soon, perhaps during the college’s Open House on April 27, to see and tour our outstanding educational facilities, including the simulation hospital, science building, automotive labs, state-of-the-art preschool classroom, student-friendly library and other training facilities.

I’m hopeful there will be a day when society normalizes sending kids to community colleges without making them feel inferior to their peers at four-year institutions. And the sooner everyone realizes many Americans would have no access to higher education without community colleges, the better.

Higher education is about helping people develop the knowledge and skills they need to pursue their calling. To paraphrase Dr. Dallas Herring, a key player in the creation of the N.C. Community College System, it is about taking people where they are and carrying them as far as they can go through education.

I want to thank everyone who has supported Pitt Community College and its students the past 63 years. The Board of Trustees is working hard to find a great president to step in for Dr. Lawrence Rouse when he retires this summer. You can be confident PCC will be in good hands and ready to “educate and empower people for success” for decades to come. Go Bulldogs!

Sincerely,

Charles Ellis signature
A. Charles Ellis
Chair, PCC Board of Trustees