Community college president talks leadership during pandemic

SALISBURY — Janet Spriggs offered four key ways to lead during the “brave new normal” of the ongoing pandemic: be calm, be confident, be courageous and be compassionate.

Hosted by the Rowan Chamber of Commerce, Spriggs spoke Thursday during the organization’s Power in Partnership breakfast event held via Zoom. Spriggs is former chief operating officer of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and president of Forsyth Technical Community College. In addition to digital attendees, she spoke to the graduating class of Leadership Rowan on “Learning to Make a Difference: Living Your Purpose in a Brave New Normal.”

Janet N. Spriggs: In the eye of the storm, focusing on students

Like most colleges, spring usually arrives at Forsyth Tech, filled with excitement and anticipation. Students are eager for spring break, faculty and staff are wrapping up another school year, and our graduates shine, walking proudly across the stage to the cheers of everyone who supported them on their journey. Normally, spring is the most wonderful time of our academic year, but that’s not how spring arrived this year.

In my second year as president of Forsyth Technical Community College, I was looking forward to the promise a new year would bring. Our economy was strong, enrollment was up and the 2020 Forsyth County high school graduating class would be the first students eligible for the free college Hope and Opportunity Scholarships. Our vision 2025 strategic plan was in place and we were moving toward our vision of being a catalyst for equitable economic mobility, empowering lives and transforming communities. We could not have envisioned a global pandemic.

Looking back, I will always remember Friday, March 13, 2020, as a pivotal moment for our college, the day our world shifted from “normal” to something new, and uncertain.