Charles “Chuck” Lloyd, president, White Mountains Community College, whch was named the 2023 Business of the Year in the Education catoegry by Business NH Magazine.
As communities in the North Country work to diversify their local economies, White Mountains Community College (WMCC) plays a critical role as the sole higher education institution above the notches, serving approximately 1,000 students annually at its main campus in Berlin, as well as at academic centers in Littleton and North Conway.
WMCC offers associate degrees and certificates in various fields, including nursing, welding, and diesel heavy equipment technology, for which a new $5 million, 10,000-square-foot facility is being built in Littleton. Plymouth State University also offers a bachelor’s degree in education at the Berlin campus. And WMCC boasts the highest graduation rate among community colleges in New England.
“We take a customized student approach and have recently received some national recognition with the Aspen [Community College Excellence] Award nomination for top colleges in the nation,” says WMCC President Charles “Chuck” Lloyd. WMCC was also among 68 institutions nationally to achieve “Great College to Work For” in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2022.
WMCC was among 16 colleges selected from 100 nationally to participate in the Rural Pathways Project through the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement in 2022. The program is designed for rural community colleges to improve persistence, retention and graduation rates while creating post-secondary and career pathways for students beginning in middle school.
To help students who struggle financially, WMCC offers free meals and rides to make sure they are able to fully engage in their education.
The college has increased workforce development training in the northern three counties to meet increasing demand for a skilled workforce and created long-term partnerships with local businesses. Among those is Genfoot America in Littleton, which makes Kamik boots and employs around 100 people. “I have been working with WMCC for a number of years and initially it started with discussions about workforce needs,” says Plant Director Mark Bonta, adding that led to a relationship with WMCC’s workforce development team and to developing a frontline management class. “That program has gone over well, and other businesses have become involved.”
Another community partner is Memorial Hospital, which offers a medical assistance program as an apprenticeship. “People sometimes take for granted some of the cool things the college has been able to do over the past few years. We’ve always done more with less, and we’ve thrived,” Lloyd says.