WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A proposal to consolidate community colleges in the state has many college leaders split on the idea. The General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division says merging several colleges into a larger neighboring school would save about $5 million a year.
“I think it would be devastating to our rural areas in North Carolina,” Southeastern Community College President Dr. Kathy Matlock said. “With this merger the colleges would very much lose identity and most importantly, the students would lose access.”
According to the proposal schools with fewer than 3,000 full time students would lose their separate presidents, payroll departments and other support staff in the merger.
Cape Fear Community College is the fifth largest community college in the state. President Dr. Eric McKeithan says that if the merger can save money while keeping the same level of services to students, it would be beneficial.
“It would really be more political than anything else,” McKeithan said. “It would be at least the feeling by some that they were losing control of their institution, whereas I don’t think necessarily that all those fears would be justified.”
“Our community college system was already cut $115 million this year,” Matlock said. “Those were our cuts, so $5 million out of that when it’s impacting so many rural citizens, it just seems inconsequential.”
Twenty of the state’s 58 community colleges already run multiple campuses. CFCC is one of them with two campuses in New Hanover County and a satellite center in Burgaw.
“In my opinion, there would be no direct loss of service to students and no loss of programming, no facilities would close,” McKeithan said.
Community College System President Scott Ralls has said that the $5 million a year in savings is small compared with the disruptions the mergers would cause.