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First in Future: North Carolina Community College System President James “Jimmie” Williamson

Summary:  Across the state, North Carolina’s community colleges pop up like beautifully spaced dots on a map, and if you put all 58 of them—plus their satellite campuses, together—every citizen wanting to connect to one can drive or get a ride to one just a few minutes. Once they get there, they can enroll in one of hundreds of two-year degree programs. They can learn to breed cattle, clone seeds, search deeds. Or they can learn to read. This week we talk with North Carolina Community College System President Jimmie Williamson about the future of higher education, why he decided to move to North Carolina, and what he has in common with legendary jazz musician, Dizzy Gillespie.

Excerpts: “Educators now are getting people ready for jobs that don’t yet exist; using technologies that haven’t been invented yet, solving problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

Book recommendations:  Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, by Thomas Friedman

What do we need to be working on now to make North Carolina a better place to live and work?   More funding in education. Every child should have access to high-speed internet.

What do we need to be doing now to get ready for the next 20 years?   Continue investing, imagine future jobs, be forward thinking, be willing to work together.

Next great North Carolinian to watch?   La’Quon Rogers, SGA President and East Carolina’s student body president.

This installment is part of a special 13-segment series produced in collaboration with UNC-TV, and recorded in UNC-TV’s Legislative Studio in downtown Raleigh. We are excited to share the First in Future podcast via traditional means and via taped segments to air on the North Carolina Channel! Visit for specific air dates.

Listen to the podcast:

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