WINTERVILLE—For Pitt Community College, the middle of 2020 was a time for adjusting to pandemic safety protocols, allocating relief funding to students in need, and preparing for a safe and effective 2020-21 academic year.
Set against a backdrop of economic turmoil and civil strife occurring nationwide, PCC forged ahead with a virtual graduation to replace the in-person ceremony it had to cancel for the first time in its 59-year history. The arrival of a federal coronavirus relief package in May helped students struggling financially remain in school and allowed Pitt to improve its online technology capabilities to better serve them.
“If nothing else, the coronavirus has been an educational experience,” PCC President Lawrence Rouse said in a message to the Class of 2020. “It has reminded us of that life isn’t always fair, that the so-called ‘little’ things we experience each day matter much more than we thought, and that it is up to us to make the most of the hand we’ve been dealt.”
As a new year approaches, the following is the second of three installments recapping events that took place at North Carolina’s seventh-largest community college in 2020.
- Administrators cancel plans for an in-person spring commencement due to social distancing restrictions in place to combat COVID-19. Instead, PCC organizes a virtual graduation that goes live June 1.
- The Office of Recruitment creates a multimedia presentation to give high school seniors and their parents details on PCC programs and jobs graduates can expect to find.
- PCC receives more than $5.5 million in CARES Act funding to assist students affected by the pandemic and improve online course delivery technology.
- Chemistry Instructor Kenneth Pearce receives PCC’s Joseph E. Downing Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was one of five faculty nominated for the honor, along with Patricia Adams, Madeline Beamon, Nicole Franklin and Wanda Tenpenny.
- Knowing the economic hardship created by the pandemic, administrators refund summer student activity fees.
- Explore! Summer Camps take place virtually due to the coronavirus.
- Trustees present a Distinguished Service Award to Charles Long, who announced his retirement from the board after 13 years.
- Counseling staff draw from their on-campus food pantry to assist students in need.
- After civil unrest erupts following George Floyd’s death in Minnesota, President Lawrence assures the community that PCC is committed to providing a safe learning environment. He adds that complex questions regarding activism, justice and racism “will take all of us working in harmony to resolve.”
- The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designate PCC a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.
- Instructor Scott Temple receives a fellowship to conduct research at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University that will help him continue shedding light on issues concerning Latino migration and farm work.
- After receiving associate degrees in engineering and science from PCC, Jonah Ghebremichael is selected for participation in the prestigious Goodnight Scholars Program at N.C. State University.
- PCC Career Services and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services team on a virtual recruiting event for students.
- PCC’s Respiratory Therapy program receives a “Distinguished Registered Respiratory Therapist Credentialing Success Award” from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care.
- Pitt’s Laurie Weston leads a virtual presentation on building partnerships in workforce development and education communities as part of a national professional development conference for continuing education leaders and business experts.
- The Walmart Neighborhood Market on E. Arlington Boulevard in Greenville supports PCC’s on-campus food pantry with a $1,000-donation.
- PCC’s new Ongoing Operations Taskforce is hard at work developing guidelines for maintaining a safe and healthy campus during the fall semester.
- Pitt holds a virtual orientation session for first-generation students as part of its effort to build a stronger first-generation campus community.
- Trustees swear in new and re-appointed members, including newcomer Lindsey Griffin, who replaces Charles Long on the board.
- President Rouse tells trustees that plans for returning to campus in the fall have changed due to the ongoing pandemic. He says most classes will be taught online and that those that do meet in person will do so with enhanced safety measures in place.
- Vice President of Administrative Services Rick Owens is recognized for his work on a committee that established the N.C. Community College System’s information technology strategy and priorities.
- Student Brian Kilpatrick, an Air Force veteran, receives a Coca-Cola Military Leaders of Promise Scholarship worth $1,000.
- The PCC Foundation and Francis M. Barnes Memorial Trust partner to establish a new scholarship for Pitt students from Martin County.
- During a virtual town hall, students learn about the college’s fall semester plans, including its effort to offer an increasing number of support services online.
- In the interest of health safety, the PCC VISIONS program holds its annual Summer Institute online to introduce new participants to local career and educational opportunities.
- During a virtual convocation to kick off the 2020-21 academic year, PCC Trustees Chairman Gary Evans thanks employees for their dedicated service throughout the pandemic.
- The State Library of North Carolina awards PCC a $10,000-mini grant to address the technology needs of students having to take fall courses online due to COVID-19. The funding is used to purchase laptops the college loans to students who need them for accessing courses and completing assignments.
- Federal grant funding for Pitt’s Student Support Services program is renewed, meaning the initiative’s work with traditionally underserved students will continue through at least 2025.
- PCC launches PITT SAFE, a smart phone application to enhance campus safety.
- Trustees swear-in Student Government Association President Najella Williams as an ex-officio member. The University Transfer student says her focus as SGA president will be maintaining a cohesive campus community as PCC continues to operate remotely due to the coronavirus.