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HCC upgrades campus to accommodate Northampton Early College

JACKSON – Dr. Michael Elam, president of Halifax Community College (HCC), provided a general update to the Northampton Board of Commissioners during their regular meeting here Sept. 17. He talked about enrollment statistics, campus improvement initiatives, and the Northampton County Early College which is housed by the Weldon-based community college.

While Elam spoke briefly about different aspects of HCC, the largest portion of his presentation was focused on Northampton’s Early College program.

“This is a program we’re extremely proud of,” said Elam. “Working with the principal there, she has just been a delight. She’s been very cooperative and collaborative through the process to make this all work.”

He reported there were currently 143 students enrolled in Northampton Early College with 93 of those taking college credit courses. HCC is also home to Roanoke Valley Early College and the new Roanoke Rapids Early College.

With three early college programs on campus, Elam explained the age range of students at HCC had shifted. In 2013, only about six percent of students were under the age of 18. In 2017, that number had jumped to 33 percent.

“That’s a third of our population on campus under the age of 18,” he said, noting those early college students did not have to pay typical student fees.

To house the Northampton County Early College, HCC has worked to renovate parts of campus. Funding, including money allocated from the Northampton Commissioners, has gone to Phase I and Phase II of the renovations. These renovations range from painting and adding signage to fixing plumbing/electrical and improving security.

“We still have some issues that have to be dealt with,” the college president said.

Phase II is expected to be complete, Elam reported, by the end of December 2018. The total cost of both phases combined is expected to equal almost $300,000.

HCC has provided five classrooms, an office suit, a multipurpose room, storage space, and a conference room for Northampton Early College. The spacious multipurpose room is being used as a cafeteria as well as an assembly room.

Dr. Elam emphasized increased campus security as one of the most important improvements they’ve recently made. Security cameras, which are monitored both at HCC and the Weldon Police Department, are set up throughout campus with plans to add even more. They’re also in the process of hiring an additional resource officer to “have some boots on the ground.”

“Yes, your students are probably safer on our campus than they are in their own neighborhoods,” Elam said with a laugh.

In addition to the early college program, Elam stressed other ways HCC serves Northampton County. They provide workforce training programs which will benefit people seeking to work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, for example. He also reported almost a quarter of students enrolled in HCC this semester are from Northampton.

“Bit by bit, we are doing what we can to try to serve the community,” he concluded.

The commissioners thanked Dr. Elam for the updated information.

“I am real happy to know you all are working hard on the safety and security of the campus,” said Chairman Robert Carter.

Commissioner Fannie Greene, who also serves on HCC’s Board of Trustees, expressed her excitement for new programs Northampton citizens can take advantage of.

“We are very excited about the new revamped nursing program. I think that’s really going to benefit our citizens,” Greene said.

“I just want to commend you and your staff,” said Commissioner Charles Tyner, noting he was especially pleased to hear about the security improvements for Northampton Early College.

Tyner also requested the community college to work towards bringing more programs to Northampton County. Dr. Elam replied that they’re working to do all that they can.