Friday, July 19, 2024

Upfront: A bright future

As we enter the month of May, some are thinking about college graduation. I know my wife and I are because our oldest son plans to walk down the aisle at Appalachian State University later this month (as of press time, I hope that’s still the plan). We’ll be taking the family up the mountain as we celebrate his four years in Boone and what’s to come. A lot of families will be doing this across the state this month.

So it’s fitting that this issue features our Higher Education Directory. This annual listing of the state’s universities and colleges really tells an incredible story of our state’s rich history in higher ed.

North Carolina has 16 public universities, 58 private institutions and 58 community colleges. Each listing includes enrollment figures, overall costs and other insightful information on why N.C. leads the nation in higher education.

Our university system, both public and private, has grown and thrived over the years. The three powerhouses in the Triangle — N.C. State, Duke and UNC Chapel Hill — have been beacons for economic development. Another great story is the growth of other public universities such as N.C. A&T State, UNC Wilmington, Appalachian State University and UNC Charlotte.

Private institutions such as High Point University, Elon -University, Davidson College and Campbell University have expanded and become integral parts of local and regional economies.

Equally impressive is the work that our community colleges are doing in terms of assisting economic development efforts.

Examples include the work that Guilford Technical Community College is doing with aviation industries in the Triad; collaborations between AB Technical Community College and Blue Ridge Community College and manufacturers in the West; and how Wake Tech and Pitt Community College, among others, are working with pharmaceutical companies in the Triangle and East.

I’ve traveled quite a bit over the years, visiting many of these places for one reason or another. To really understand their impact, you really need to visit the schools when classes are in session and buzzing with student activity.

I have done this at Fayetteville Technical Community College on numerous occasions. It’s a huge campus tucked away in a quiet neighborhood.   

Once I arrive, I’m taken aback by the size of the place and the number of students there. It’s bustling. It makes you think about how much training is taking place at one time in one place. This is happening every day across our state. These visits make me feel very confident about our future.

Check out the Higher Education directory. I think it will help you feel the same way.

Ben Kinney
Ben Kinney
Ben Kinney is publisher of Business North Carolina magazine. You can reach him at

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