PHONE: 627-4521

DATE: 03-14-03


HCC Selected for Rural Community College Initiative

Haywood Community College has formed a partnership with two other western Carolina community colleges, Tri-County Community College and Southwestern Community College, and this partnership has been selected to be part of a national Rural Community College Initiative (RCCI) demonstration project funded by the Ford Foundation. The two-year program is being jointly administered by the Southern Rural Development Center located at Mississippi State University and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development located at Iowa State University. The RCCI is designed to accelerate the ability of rural community and tribal colleges to meet the expanding needs of rural communities located in their service areas.

The western Carolina partnership will join 14 other institutions from Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota and Texas in this national learning network of rural community colleges. In addition to linking community and tribal colleges to each other, the RCCI program will connect participating colleges to Extension educators located in state land-grant institutions across the nation.

Bo Beaulieu, director of the Southern Rural Development Center, stated, "We are excited that this new initiative is bringing the talents of rural community and tribal colleges together with those of our land-grant university Extension programs. This powerful new partnership means that rural communities in the targeted states will have access to some of the best community college and Extension educators who care deeply about the well being of rural people and communities in this country."

According to Dr. Nathan Hodges, President of Haywood Community College, the presidents of these colleges are dedicated to continuing our commitment to the rich institutions over the past decade. "This tradition has fostered programs in education, economic, and community development that are helping to improve the lives of citizens throughout the seven rural counties of Western North Carolina," he said.

"We’re excited to be part of an initiative administered by the Rural Development Centers at Mississippi State University and Iowa State University. Working with outstanding extension educators, we have a unique opportunity to preserve and promote the culture of our mountain counties and to expand education and economic opportunities for all our families, including those engaged in agricultural enterprise. It’s a big challenge—but I think we are up to it."

The Rural Community College Initiative will involve participating colleges in annual RCCI institutes, specialized training programs and field trips that will showcase promising economic and community development strategies. The first RCCI Institute, to be held next month in Kansas City, Missouri, will offer the team from western North Carolina an opportunity to learn about innovative approaches for strengthening the economy of rural communities, extending the valuable resources of the community college to new audiences and enhancing the involvement of local citizens in community improvement activities.