WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College administrators sent a clear message about the college’s dedication to improving student success Thursday by announcing that the school is now part of the Achieving the Dream (ATD) National Network.
PCC is one of the first members of ATD’s 2019 cohort, along with College of Lake County in Illinois, Hudson County Community College in New Jersey and California’s Sacramento City College. By joining the ATD Network, the colleges have made it known they are bolstering their efforts to help students – particularly low-income students and students of color – achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth and economic opportunity.
“We are pleased to welcome these four outstanding institutions into our network,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Colleges like these that join the ATD Network show an exceptional commitment to becoming the kind of institution that will lead the nation into the future. We look forward to having other colleges join them as we continue to build a strong 2019 cohort.”
PCC President Lawrence Rouse says being part of the ATD Network’s newest cohort “is an extremely high honor” for Pitt and one that will play a significant role in the college’s overall mission to better serve students and assure their success.
“Pitt Community College will benefit greatly from joining the Achieving the Dream Network, as we are currently involved in a number of great initiatives that are focused on student success,” Rouse said. “By becoming a part of the ATD Network, we will be able to access additional strategies and guidance to increase our effectiveness in delivering quality education and supportive services to all students.”
Rouse added that as an ‘open-door’ institution, PCC remains committed to meeting the directive issued by Dr. Dallas Herring—considered by many to be the ‘Father of the N.C. Community College System’—to take people from where they are to as far as their talents and ability allow.
“PCC is a champion for educational equity because we believe that all citizens should have the opportunity to learn in a supportive environment, no matter their previous educational background,” he said. “In today’s world, we must prepare our students for the challenges of working and learning in a global society with the prerequisite skills for career and life. Achieving The Dream will help Pitt Community College meet that challenge.”
PCC’s path to ATD membership began almost four years ago, when experts from the prestigious Aspen Institute visited campus as part of the “North Carolina Roadmap to Excellence Project.” After receiving a report summarizing the Institute’s recommendations for increasing student success, the college developed a Student Success Action Council (SSAC) in 2016 to focus on recruitment, retention, processes and data, and improving the ‘front door experience’ for new students.
PCC Health Sciences Dean Donna Neal, a part of the SSAC, helped develop Pitt’s application for ATD membership, along with Anna Jones, the college’s research coordinator. Neal says PCC administrators are hoping the college’s affiliation with ATD will lead to improvement in three key areas:
- Student success outcomes, particularly when it comes to retention and completion.
- Achievement gaps directly related to equity among underserved, underrepresented and under-resourced students.
- Use of data to guide decision-making.
“PCC has made progress with regard to many of the Aspen Institute’s recommendations, but there are still significant gains to be achieved,” Neal said. “We have the momentum, and it is the SSAC’s belief that joining the ATD Network can help accelerate PCC’s pace of improvement and lead to a long-term and sustainable commitment by the entire campus community to improving student success.”
ATD will announce its full 2019 cohort in groups of colleges throughout the spring. Teams from that cohort will participate in the ATD Kickoff Institute in June. The annual three-day experience includes an introduction to ATD’s capacity-building framework and companion Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool, which enables colleges to pinpoint their strengths and areas for improvement.
During the Kickoff, college teams, which are typically comprised of the president, key faculty and staff and student leaders, will begin to organize their student success work for the year, including preparing for their on-campus launch in the fall. They will receive an in-depth orientation to ATD and how to leverage the power of its national network.
Teams will also meet their college’s Leadership Coach and Data Coach. These coaches are community college leaders who are carefully matched with institutions to provide personalized advice and guidance to build needed capacities, align student success efforts, and support change where it is needed.
Based in Silver Spring, Md., Achieving the Dream leads a growing network of more than 220 community colleges representing 41 states and the District of Columbia. Along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, ATD reaches more than four million community college students. The organization is making progress in closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas.
PCC has been educating and empowering people for success since it opened in 1961. The college, which serves more than 23,000 students in credit and non-credit programs annually, has emerged as a leader in workforce development in eastern North Carolina. According to a 2018 economic impact report by Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc., PCC made a $277.2 million-impact on the community during the 2015-16 fiscal year.