Rowan-Cabarrus reflects on eventful 2012, looks forward to 2013

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 5, 2013

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has seen a lot of changes in the past year, and its president says there are still plenty more to come.
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College released its 2012 annual report to the college’s Board of Trustees last week. The annual report focuses on how the college spent the past year developing its resources, facilities and academics.
“I think ‘A Year of Development’ was a good title,” said Dr. Carol Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. “That includes our professional development and our institutional effectiveness.”
It also includes the development of new facilities and programs, Spalding said.
The new computer technology integration program has expanded, and the licensed practical nursing and registered nursing programs are now housed under the same roof at the North Carolina Research Campus.
In 2013, the college is looking forward to the construction of its new fire training facility and the expansion of its machining technology program.
Rowan-Cabarrus also has made significant upgrades to its wireless Internet service in the past year, Spalding said. Now, students can access the Internet on their mobile devices from almost anywhere on campus.
“The fact that your cell phone can access our Wi-Fi in the library or anywhere on campus or our other facilities is a highlight, I think,” Spalding said.
Many of the college’s technology upgrades in the past year have been behind-the-scenes, she aid.
“Our records have all been digitized, and our transcripts are digitized and can be sent to other students,” she said.
That created a need for more staff training, which Spalding said has presented a challenge as Rowan-Cabarrus continues its professional development efforts.
Development can also refer to fund raising efforts, and Spalding said the college is looking to raise more money from the community and private grants to pay for scholarships and special programs.
“We’re in the middle of a feasibility study looking at trying to get private support for what we do,” she said. “Our budget from the state is not able to keep up with the needs of the community for high-tech jobs and the equipment required for them.”
In total, the college receives most of its revenue from state aid and state capital aid (46 percent) as well as noncapital grants and gifts (37 percent). It spends the most money on instruction (36 percent) and student financial aid (27 percent).
The college received about $27.9 million in state aid in fiscal year 2012. State capital aid decreased by 16.28 percent from the previous year.
Appropriations from Rowan and Cabarrus counties (current and capital dollars) totaled nearly $4.6 million, representing a decrease of $382,601 from fiscal year 2011.
In fiscal year 2012, the college’s total full-time student enrollment was 6,856, and the tuition rate set by the state legislature increased by $10 per credit hour from the prior year for both in-state and out-of-state students.
A decline in enrollment was offset by this increase in tuition rates, resulting in a modest overall increase in tuition and fees of $9,273 (0.18 percent).
“In terms of our enrollment being down, that’s because we had a huge spike that’s averaging out again,” Spalding said. “When the great recession affected us very hard in the two-county area… people found that if they can’t get a job, they might as well be in class, getting a degree, certificate or diploma.”
The annual report also features the new college brand released in January. The new logo includes a compass with a needle fixed at the angle between the college’s North Campus and South Campus. It is accompanied by the new tagline, “Navigate Forward.”
“This really is uncharted territory now,” Spalding said. “People are getting jobs that they really would not have imagined five years ago. We’re here to help people navigate and get the tools they need. … I think we’re performing well and being flexible in taking students where they are and helping them get ready for the next step.”

Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.