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The North State’s North Star | 9:00 a.m. 

In 2019 the state of North Carolina adopted a bold new goal to dramatically increase the number of North Carolinians with a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential by 2030. Then…a pandemic happened, leaving hundreds of thousands of existing workers unemployed and hundreds of thousands of students uncertain about their future. Whole sectors of the economy are shutting down. The way people work and learn, is changing. Even as higher education fights its way through the current crisis, new ideas are emerging — about increasing affordability, shrinking the achievement gap, synching degrees and credentials with demand, improving collaborations between higher education, the private sector and community groups and growing future leaders with the skills to chart a new course into the future. Session Link


  • Leslie Boney | Director, Institute for Emerging Issues Read Bio
  • Peter Hans | President, University of North Carolina System Read Bio
  • Hope Williams | President, NC Independent Colleges and Universities

Listening Session | 9:25 a.m. 

These active engagement sessions are a space for participants to share stories, information, and resources and learn from others across different sectors, regions, and perspectives to explore how trends and the onset of COVID-19 are impacting higher education across North Carolina. These sessions will be facilitated by IEI staff but driven by participants. The more diverse the audience, the richer the discussion. 


  • Despite decades of effort, jarring “achievement gaps” remain when it comes to college enrollment and degree completion, especially among students of color, students from rural communities, and first-generation students. The stresses of the pandemic may exacerbate these challenges or offer new opportunities. What are we discovering about how to improve access, affordability, and completion? Session Link
  • Future U: Technological change and the nature of work continues to evolve. Some jobs are disappearing and others are emerging: COVID-19 is only accelerating the rate of change. How can we strengthen partnerships between education and business to respond and create opportunities, and how can we make it easier for people to return to school to take advantage of it? Session Link
  • Civic Leadership: Campus to Community During and following the pandemic, communities face both long-term and new challenges. Colleges and universities have many assets that make them uniquely positioned to offer support. How can higher education best support communities and raise up a new generation of servant leaders to take on these challenges? Session Link
  • Open Space Circus Higher Ed Discussion: A space to discuss other topics that meeting participants want to address. Bring your ideas, observations, passion, and anxieties. Consider this the hallway, the backroom, that place to really talk. Session Link


Sharing Assembly | 10:10 a.m.

This moderated session will review key takeaways from each listening session and highlight efforts across North Carolina worth knowing about. Session Link


Leading in Transformation | 10:45 a.m.

Higher education leaders are dealing with the impact of COVID-19 today, even while adapting and innovating to meet the needs of the future. These sessions will explore what it means to have a transformational mindset in higher education, highlight examples of transformation taking place across the nation and here at home, and how students are responding.  Session Link


  • Randy Woodson | Chancellor, NC State University
  • Kim A. Wilcox | Chancellor, University of California, Riverside Read Bio
  • William Serrata | President of El Paso County Community College District Read Bio

A Vision for the Future | 11:10 a.m.

These remarks will speak to five key elements of transformation in education, highlight examples of transformation, and learn how students are responding. Session Link


  • Kelly Young | President, Education Reimagined Read Bio

Closing | 11:25 a.m. 

Session Link


  • Leslie Boney | Director, Institute for Emerging Issues Read Bio