Reboot Charlotte: Local Colleges
Charlotte colleges are doing more with less thanks to rising enrollment and smaller budgets.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte area is home to tremendous business, community and education assets.
From UNC Charlotte to Central Piedmont Community College to the Charlotte School of Law, the number of college applicants is growing, but budgets are shrinking as are the number of grants and scholarships.
"In the past four and a half years we're up 35% enrollments at the same time we're down 25% in funding so we have to work harder and harder at being more efficient and in raising alternative revenues," says Dr. Tony Zeiss, President of CPCC.
"About 40% or more of our students are eligible for pell grants and looking down the road I'm concerned that we may lose some of the federal support that we have for students who have need," adds Joan F. Lorden Ph.D., Provost at UNC Charlotte.
UNC Charlotte with a student body of over 25,000 has redesigned many of its courses to a hybrid format to help deal with a lack of classroom space.
"So students are expected to do a lot more work before they come to class, to do some of their work online, to interact with faculty and with their peers online. It allows us to almost double the use of some of our classrooms," says Lorden.
Along with having the proper resources educators say today's colleges must target areas where there are jobs.
"Our deans are out in the community all the time and one of the reasons we encourage that is for them to actually begin to understand where the next needs are going to be," says Lorden.
Zeiss agrees. "You see energy is stepping in now, Duke & Shaw and a lot of Siemens. That's a huge thrust. But we don't want to just depend on energy either. so we need to we need to work on our entrepreneurial center here at the college to produce more and more small business folks."
"In the Charlotte area there is an immediate need for persons to help with immigration issues," says Denise Spriggs, Interim Dean at the Charlotte School of Law.
In order to ensure success, today's students now more than ever must have opportunities in the community.
"Creating opportunities for our students to have that hands on experience while they are in law school so that they get the best opportunity to begin work quickly and that someone that's employing them looks at them as a value added from day one," says Spriggs
While Charlotte has made some strides in broadening it's economy CPCC President Tony Zeiss believes a new vision is needed.
"We need to be the region in the nation that creates things; small business entrepreneuralism, innovation, makes things and moves things better than anybody else."
While it will take a short-term reboot for local colleges to deal with current financial woes, the plan is to also build a new foundation so Charlotte is competitive and successful for years to come.