CSEM, Forsyth Tech joint study reveals high cost of transportation challenges

Groundbreaking research by Winston-Salem State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM), initiated by Forsyth Technical Community College (FTCC), reveals that transportation challenges are taking a heavy toll on the college’s student productivity.  The college, which works hard at economic mobility, is adversely impacted by urban sprawl and the transportation costs that come with it, just are so many other institutions and individuals here and nationwide. The CSEM study, done in partnership with Forsyth Tech, is helping lead the way to beneficial change for Forsyth Tech and other institutions.

Mike Massoglia, director of grant writing and development at Forsyth Tech, noted, “From helping us put together a student survey, to providing a thorough and provocative analysis of the results, CSEM has been a critically important partner. What struck us most about the report was the potential impact of transportation barriers on Forsyth Tech’s bottom line, let alone on the lives and economic mobility of our students: more than $1 million in lost state revenue from the thousands of credit-hours not taken.

Stacy Waters-Bailey, Forsyth Tech’s executive director of student support services, said, “We are, of course, very excited about the study and getting the results.” She serves on a task force made up of administrators, faculty and staff that will consider ways of applying the data into the new year. The data confirm stories they had heard from the students, she said, and the students added much more as they answered survey questions.

“You realize that the impact of transportation in Winston-Salem is much wider and more ingrained than we’d even imagined,” Waters-Bailey said. “CSEM’s report provided the initial data the college needed to better understand and lay a foundation for further analysis which will help make an impact for students and the community.”

As 2020 ends, local colleges and universities make plans for the future amidst pandemic

As the year comes to a close, university and college administrators are looking back on the past year to help inform them on how to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the spring. With a diverse group of institutions in the Triad — from community colleges to public four-year universities to smaller private schools — the area is a unique microcosm of what higher education may look like across the nation next year.

“We’re asking students to do a soft quarantine before they return,” said Jermaine Thomas, the director of public safety and the chair of the health and safety task force at Guilford College. “Students will be online for the first week of classes and that may be pushed out to the first two weeks. We’re paying attention to the state and what the governor might do and looking for any type of stay-at-home order.”

Guilford College is a private school with a population of about 1,900, including faculty and staff. According to the school’s year-to-date coronavirus dashboard, there have been 36 positive cases of COVID-19 among the school’s community, which amounts to only 1.9 percent of the population. Earlier this year, Thomas said they shut athletics down and adjusted the dining hall for to-go orders. They also moved 80 percent of classes online and opened a residence hall for high-risk students to live alone. In the fall, all students coming back to campus had to get tested.