SURF CITY | Pender County and municipal leaders joined Cape Fear Community College directors recently for a brick-laying ceremony for the first building at the college’s new campus near Surf City.
When completed late this year, the building, which sits on 24 acres just off U.S. 17, will have six classrooms, a lab, a media center and offices.
“There has been a need and a desire on the part of the leadership of this part of Pender County for years,” said David Hardin, CFCC public relations director. And the funding has finally fallen into place, he added.
The long-range outlook for the new college will largely depend on demand, Hardin said. “We certainly have enough property that we can expand to. Right now, our priority is to get the first building open, start getting people enrolled and starting classes.”
The college will start with some continuing education classes, some basic college English, math, history, science — “those types of classes that will transfer anyplace,” Hardin said. “For technical/vocational classes, we are going to start out with a one-year program in phlebotomy. That will be our starter curriculum.”
There will be, according to CFCC President Dr. Ted Spring, an active audit program available to senior citizens — Seniorversity — and plans are on the drawing board for an eventual seven-building campus.
Given the college’s semester structure, there will be a push to open the school in early 2015. If that goal is unmet, classes won’t begin until about this time next year, given the need to start instruction based on the overall school calendar.
Kim Gant, CFCC’s vice president for institutional effectiveness and planning, addressed the college’s recent decline in enrollment.
That happens, she said, presumably because some young adults find employment and leave the classroom while others opt for getting their entire undergraduate education at a four-year institution.
But Cape Fear Community College administrators aren’t worried about the minor drop, and neither, apparently are Surf City officials, who ponied up about $550,000 for the new college branch.
Nearby Topsail Beach kicked in $100,000, while the Pender County Board of Commissioners put up $100,000 last year and another $100,000 this year, with some future operational funds also showing up in the budget.
There is no reason to worry about enrollment or nearby Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, Hardin said.
“There’s enough opportunity and enough people in this area to support multiple community colleges,” he said. “This (Pender County) is our service area, and what we are trying to do here is provide a new place, a more convenient place for students to take classes where they don’t have to go to Castle Hayne, they don’t have to go to Burgaw, they don’t have to go to Wilmington. This is an ideal location to serve our population.”