North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has appointed Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of Vance-Granville Community College, to the Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound, Basic Education. The Commission, which the governor created through an Executive Order, will focus on the critical importance of North Carolina meeting its duties under the state constitution as underscored by the landmark court rulings in Leandro v. North Carolina and Hoke County Board of Education v. North Carolina.
The new commission includes experts from a wide range of fields that are relevant to education and student and school success. Dr. Williams (pictured above) was appointed as the representative of North Carolina community colleges. The commission will focus on key areas highlighted in the original Leandro ruling, including:
• staffing each classroom with a competent, well-trained teacher,
• staffing each school with a competent, well-trained principal, and
• identifying the resources necessary to ensure that all children, including those at risk, have an equal opportunity to obtain a sound basic education.
The commission is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Nov. 30 in Raleigh. Its goal is to develop recommendations for specific actions necessary to achieve sustained compliance with the constitutional mandates established in Leandro.
“I look forward to the opportunity to work with the other leaders on this commission to identify concrete steps that our state can take to improve public education for all our young people in all corners of North Carolina,” President Williams said. “The success of our great state depends on strong K-12 schools, working in partnership with strong community colleges and universities.”
Williams became the sixth president of VGCC in 2012. Since then, she has focused the college strategically on educational excellence, continuous improvement, employee and student engagement in college life, and institutional stewardship. During her tenure, the college has added seven curriculum degree programs, secured the largest grants in the college’s history, the second-largest private donor gift, and held six consecutive highest-yielding annual golf tournaments for scholarships. With a focus on student success, the institution has improved completion rates, graduating the largest classes ever in 2015 and 2016, and initiating a private donor-sponsored college promise program called the “VanGuarantee” in an effort to make college more accessible for students with the greatest financial need.
Prior to leading VGCC, Williams served as faculty and in several administrative capacities at other North Carolina community colleges. She also currently serves as adjunct faculty for the North Carolina State University College of Education. Williams holds dual baccalaureate degrees from Duke University, a graduate degree from Western Carolina University, and a doctorate from North Carolina State University. In 2014, she was awarded the I.E. Ready Distinguished Leadership Award by North Carolina State University.
The Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound, Basic Education is the second education-related panel for which the VGCC leader has been selected in recent months. Dr. Williams was appointed to the “My Future NC” Commission by the president of the University of North Carolina, Margaret Spellings; the acting president of the North Carolina Community College System, Jennifer Haygood; and the state superintendent of public instruction, Mark Johnson.