South Piedmont Community College

PHoto courtesy of South Piedmont Community College

MONROE – South Piedmont Community College has been selected as a top 10 finalist in two of three categories for a Bellwether Award.

South Piedmont is being recognized in the Workforce Development category for the Road2Wingate partnership with Wingate University. The program guarantees graduates admission to Wingate with 100% of credits transferring seamlessly.

This partnership helps bolster the skilled labor shortage for Union and Anson counties. The partnership allows South Piedmont students to use Wingate facilities such as the library and wellness center. Students also have access to counseling services from their advising and financial aid staff. Also, to keep the cost of education low, the Gateway to Wingate scholarship allows SPCC graduates to attend Wingate for $2,500 a year or less.

“There have always been some common agreements between community colleges and universities, but we wanted to look at things more creatively and strategically to better serve the students in our communities,” said Maria Pharr, president at South Piedmont.

The second recognition for the Planning, Governance and Finance category highlights the success with a new mobile app, SPCC Navigate. Facing challenges with staff efficiency, safety, security and student access, South Piedmont hired a project manager to facilitate collaboration on new technologies. The app resolves the need for staff to speak in English and Spanish by having a chatbot that answers questions in both languages. The app includes an appointment-setting platform where students no longer have to wait in long lines but can be notified virtually while also eliminating the need for staff to make and track appointments manually. There is also a wayfinding solution that allows students and employees to find directions directly to a classroom or office.

“I believe that we have an excellent chance of winning with either of these projects, but it is a very worthy honor to have been named a finalist,” Pharr said. “I am so grateful for everyone’s efforts in developing and engaging in these projects.”

As a finalist in both categories, South Piedmont will compete for the Bellwether Award at the 2022 Community College Futures Assembly scheduled from Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. Each team will provide a 60-minute presentation to an audience of their peers and an anonymous team of judges.

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