NCCCS President Thomas Stith Visits Robeson Community College
Robeson Community College received a special visit today from the President of the North Carolina Community College System, Thomas Stith, III. Stith was joined by North Carolina Senator, Danny Britt, and North Carolina Representative Charles Graham.
This was Stith’s first visit to Robeson Community College as the System President.
“I wanted to make sure that he had an opportunity to meet our community partners,” said RCC President Singler, who invited Stith to campus. “It takes a team of students, faculty, staff, board members, and alumni, and community members to make RCC the greatest institution of higher learning and workforce training in the state.”
Stith came to the North Carolina Community College System with two decades of experience in public service and business in the Tarheel State. He previously served as the district director of the United States Small Business Administration, where he led the federal agency’s response to COVID-19 in North Carolina. He also served as the chief of staff to former Governor Pat McCrory from 2013 to 2017 and was a three-term city council member in Durham.
Stith says that he has a three-part vision for the North Carolina Community College System, and that includes playing a dominant role in economic recovery.
“It’s our turn to lead. It is the community college that will now lead North Carolina in conjunction with other higher education partners as we move North Carolina forward,” said Stith. “I see the North Carolina Community College System leading in higher education, leading in economic developing, leading and engaging in our community to provide that effectively trained workforce needed for the future.”
The three pillars of his vision include being the first choice for higher education in North Carolina, helping industry recover and sustaining growth moving forward, and serving as a national model for diversity and inclusion.
“Because of our accessible and affordable nature, I think we should be the first choice whether you are newly admitted high school graduate, retired military personnel, or you ‘ve been displaced because of this pandemic,” said Stith.
From an industry standpoint, Stith says that “We have more than 900,000 small businesses in the state. It is the community college system that provides the majority of those individuals going into those small businesses, going into those corporations that are relocating to North Carolina.”
“As you look at the value of the North Carolina System, we had 1.7 million individuals within the workforce that represented 60 billion dollars in wages, so when you invest in the North Carolina Community College system you are investing in your communities, you’re investing in that workforce, you’re investing in the economy of the state.”
In the recent budget passed by the State of North Carolina, legislatures did make an investment in community colleges. That included a major investment to Robeson Community College, which was generously granted 19.1 million for a new workforce development building and an additional 1.4 million for the purchase of a generator. This allocation of funds for a new building at a community college set a new precedent.
This legislation was passed due to the collaboration between Senator Danny Britt and Representatives Charles Graham and Brenden Jones.
“We had a historic event in this legislative session, from what my data shows we received the largest investment in the North Carolina Community College System in well over a decade,” said Stith. “It’s a key indication that the North Carolina Community College System, Robeson Community College, is going to lead our economic recovery.”
Danny Britt added to remarks to the discussion, saying that President Singler was one of the key players in lobbying for the additional funding for Robeson Community College.
“She pitched her 3-year vision for the campus here at Robeson Community College, and part of the vision was something that we needed for Robeson County and that was better trade programs,” said Britt. “It is a very, very monumental budget for Robeson Community College… but it is primarily because of President Singler’s leadership and her work in telling us what she needs and what her vision is.”
“I want to thank everyone for being a part of this,” said Charles Graham. “President Singler thank you for your leadership, she and I have talked about the needs of this community college many times, and I am pleased to stand before you on behalf of the North Carolina House of Representatives to say we have experienced success.”
Graham continued by saying “We are the stakeholders, and we need to continue to work together and support each other. We may have our difference sometimes, but at the end of the day, we know where we live and we know where we came from, and we know what’s important, and we lay that aside and we do the right thing, and this budget for Robeson County is evidence of that.”
Pictured above Thomas Stith III stands with students and faculty members from the RCC Culinary Department. Stith told the students, “You’ve taken the time to invest in your future, I strongly believe that education provides a pathway to opportunity, by taking the time to invest in your lives you are improving your opportunity in the future, most importantly here at Robeson Community College.”