Yes, it was a year like no other. More than anything, 2020 was a year of change and continuous adjustment.
COPING WITH COVID
Higher education in North Carolina adapted in so many ways: A treatment for COVID-19 was developed. 50,000 classes shifted online in two weeks. A professor shipped virtual-reality headsets to students. 700 laptops for Fayetteville State freshmen. A professorās Facebook group about teaching online grew to 33,000 worldwide. Colleges opened parking-lot hotspots to anyone who needed WiFi. A failed reopening. Small campuses controlled the virus. An arts school built plexiglas cubicles and rented vacant offices for opera singers to practice. And a gradual recognition that testing is critical to containing COVID-19.
When we launched our āMaking Governance Workā series in January, a bipartisan consensus emerged that we need to pay attention ā and possibly make changes ā to the boards that govern our public universities. The essays from prominent North Carolinians and national education leaders highlighted several themes:
- De-politicize the appointment process
- Improve diversity
- No micromanagement
New Presidents for the UNC and NC Community College Systems. New Chancellors at Western Carolina, UNC Charlotte, the UNC School of the Arts and East Carolina. Overactive trustees at ECU. Revised ethics rules for board members. An unnecessary change to chancellor searches. And a dear longtime friend of UNC dies.
Donated protective equipment. WiFi hotspots in college parking lots. A way to earn college credits in high school for free. Common course numbers to make transfers easier. A new effort to connect rural students with pathways that lead to jobs in demand. And a new President for the NC Community College System.
A university chancellor says the outcry over the killing of George Floyd is not a response to a single event, but an outgrowth of mounting frustrations. An African-American professor at a predominantly White institution shares experiences of systemic racism and ways to address them. National education leaders discuss how to create a college-going culture, especially among minority students. And a task force makes substantive recommendations to recruit, prepare and retain teachers of color.