The University and community looked for ways to reduce the distance between Scotland County and UNC Pembroke at the first of nine regional Listening Tours on October 13.
Chancellor Kyle R. Carter, who hosted the event at the F. Diane Honeycutt Center in Laurinburg, N.C., called it a “strategic visioning” process that will guide the University’s future.
The meeting was attended by about 40 people, including UNCP faculty and staff, many who live in the county. 118 University employees live in Scotland County along with almost 2,500 UNCP alumni.
UNCP has 311 Scotland residents enrolled in degree programs, but those in attendance said the changing needs of the county for economic and community development requires more partnerships and participation from UNCP.
Laurinburg City Manager Ed Burchins welcomed the UNCP contingent and described the county’s situation.
“We’re feeling the impact of the negative economy,” Burchins said. “We are planning ways to develop our workforce, our economy and our agriculture.
“We don’t want be what we were 10 years ago,” the city manager continued. “This building, which is a partnership between the city, county and non-profits, is a great example with what we’re trying to do.”
Theresa Lamson, president of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Chamber of Commerce, said workforce development is a critical need.
“We’re looking for ways to develop our workforce to improve the industrial base,” Lamson said. “We would love to help you market your signature degree programs.”
Greg Icard, director of Economic Development for Scotland County, said leveraging the University’s resources in partnerships would fill critical gaps in community resources.
Ann Kurtzman, clerk to the Board of County Commissioners, said leadership training programs for non-profits are needed.
“It would be helpful to have this kind of support because in a community our size, non-profits are essential,” Kurtzman said. “Support with writing grants would be one area.”
State Rep. Garland Pierce said offering more college classes in Scotland County is important.
“Also, do you have any scholarships that target just Scotland High School graduates?” Rep. Pierce asked. “We’d also like to see you bring some programs like the speaker series and other opportunities to the county.”
Rep. Pierce said community service projects and volunteers are needed in many areas such as literacy and youth programs.
“A university can do a lot of things,” Rep. Pierce said.
Scotland County offered to give UNCP a leg up.
“You may use the Chamber of Commerce as a go-between to make connections in our community,” Lamson offered. “We’re just 20 miles apart, but it seems like there is a disconnect here.
“Let’s see if there is a way to close that gap,” she continued. “I like the idea of having a UNCP presence here.”
UNCP serves Scotland in many ways, noted Dr. Charles Tita, director of Distance Education. Richmond Community College (RCC), which serves Scotland County, is a close partner with UNCP and classes have come to the county for many years.
“There is a video classroom in this building with UNCP equipment in it,” Dr. Tita said.
RCC President Dale McInnis said UNCP is a valuable partner and has expanded programs to his service area.
“We too are looking at ways to strengthen our relationship,” Dr. McInnis said.
Chancellor Carter summed up what he had heard and UNCP’s goal in coming to Scotland County.
“There are ways we can serve our region better and to make them better places,” Chancellor Carter said. “We want to make this community an important part of UNCP.”
First on his list was greater student engagement in internships, service learning and community service.
“We need more opportunities for our students to work here,” Dr. Carter said. “We do have a lot to offer, but be need to leverage resources between the community and University.”
UNCP has programs that beef up the skills of the workforce - information technology, environmental science, entrepreneurship, social work, alternative energy, counseling, business and public administration among them. These programs contribute directly to economic and community development, but UNCP’s new chancellor did not stop there.
“There seems to be a need for highly skilled workers here that would stimulate economic development,” Chancellor Carter said. “There is a suggestion that we should figure out what signature program in technology or engineering would meet that need.”
Support programs for non-profit organizations in Scotland County also resonated with Chancellor Carter.
“A leadership program in non-profit management and more support for non-profits is needed,” he said. “There was definitely a call for more resources to assist grant-supported programs.”
Chancellor Carter also proposed an endowed fund for scholarships that may also help move students and other resources the 20 miles from Pembroke to Laurinburg.
For more information, contact the Office for University and Community Relations at 910.521.6249.