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Rowan-Cabarrus Community College seeks to strengthen partnerships

KANNAPOLIS — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College staff and trustees recently participated in a strategic conversation with representatives from the Cabarrus and Rowan chambers of commerce and economic development commissions about how they can strengthen their partnerships.
“I don’t know of a time when economic development has been more important to our two counties,” said Carl M. Short, chairman of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees.
With new leadership in both counties, the college felt that it was an appropriate time to bring together key leaders and emphasize how serious the college is about jobs and improving the economy.
“I think this partnership is exactly where we need to be,” said Elaine Spalding, president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce.
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is the only public institution of higher learning in the two-county region. Over the last 50 years, the college has served over 600,000 people and 95 percent of them stay and raise families here in Rowan and Cabarrus counties.
Margie Bukowski, vice president of economic development for Cabarrus Economic Development, said she believes there are a lot of opportunities for organizations to help be more involved with community colleges. Bukowski also recommended being proactive.
“Bringing the college in as soon as you can to talk about what skill sets (potential employees are) going to need,” Bukowski said.
Some participants mentioned the challenges with getting young people interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. This effort is supported by the college’s annual STEM Open House held in the spring in conjunction with the North Carolina Science Festival.
“One of my goals as president of Rowan-Cabarrus is to increase the breadth and depth of our STEM education,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding. “I fully believe that everyone can be interested in STEM — and that it’s critical that we embrace these subjects. America used to be the leader in technology and innovation. It’s time for us to reclaim that role.”
“Research has shown that opinions toward STEM subjects are formed early,” said Dr. Marcy Corjay, dean of the college’s science, biotechnology, mathematics and information technologies.
Another topic that the group discussed was the increased importance of online education. Online learning, or distance education, is designed to allow students to participate in learning outside of the traditional classroom. The college’s goal is to provide students greater flexibility in scheduling classes while affording Rowan-Cabarrus faculty with new and innovative approaches to teaching.
The college now offers seven degrees completely online: Associate in Arts (AA), AA in history, AA in political science, associate in applied science (AAS) in accounting, AAS in business administration and AAS in business administration-marketing and retailing and AAS in criminal justice; seven additional degrees have 90 percent or more of courses available online. Additionally, three diplomas can be completed entirely online — two within business administration and one within accounting, along with 15 certificates — eight within business administration and seven within accounting.
“One reason for today’s conversation was to ensure that you all know we’re here – and we’re here to help,” said Short. “We want to do everything we can to help you do your jobs.”

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