News and Features

What's going on in the Central Piedmont community and what Central Piedmont is doing in the community.

  • College confers first honorary degree to Wilton L. Parr

    On May 12, Dr. Deitemeyer, president of Central Piedmont, conferred the college’s first honorary degree to Mr. Wilton L. Parr, during the college’s 2 p.m., commencement ceremony.

    Mr. Parr received an Honorary Associate Degree in Arts in recognition of his long-time engagement as a Central Piedmont student, volunteer, and donor.

    A native of Danville, Virginia, Wilton L. Parr graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) in 1951 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering. In 1967, he moved to Charlotte to begin a long, distinguished career in senior leadership positions with Piedmont Natural Gas. He and his wife Mary raised their two sons in Charlotte and continue to reside here.

    Upon retiring from the company at the age of 65, Mr. Parr began a second career as a student at Central Piedmont Community College. Over the span of 12 years, he enrolled in more than 100 courses. All these courses were in arts and humanities disciplines, ranging from English

    literature to studio arts courses. Through this process of ongoing education, he became an accomplished painter and sculptor. He is the personification and embodiment of the term “lifelong learner.” In addition to taking classes, Mr. Parr volunteered as a tutor and mentor to students in the college’s adult literacy program.

    As a student and volunteer, Mr. Parr developed a lasting appreciation for the quality of Central Piedmont’s range of academic offerings and classroom instruction and its importance to the Charlotte community. This appreciation is underscored by his remarkable generosity to the college over the past 25 years, which includes support for faculty, instruction, and programming in the arts and sciences, as well as scholarships. This remarkable record of philanthropy has been acknowledged with the naming of prominent college facilities in honor of Wilton and Mary Parr. He stands as the largest individual benefactor in college history. The transformational impact of his philanthropy cannot be overstated.

  • College hosts CMS leaders, administrators

    Central Piedmont hosted a dinner for close to 30 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools principals and district administration members on its Harris Campus yesterday. The group was joined by more than 20 Central Piedmont administrators, directors, assistant directors, and students as well.

    During the event, guests heard stories from CMS alumni who have attended Central Piedmont and learned how the college’s many services and programs, such as Summer Bridge, Opportunity Scholars, Career & College Promise, the Longleaf Grant, or Accelerated Career Training (ACT) initiative, helped them accomplish their educational goals.

    “This event is a celebration of student outcomes in partnership with transfer, dual enrollment and state-wide grant opportunities,” said Dr. Chris Cathcart, VP of Student Affairs. “Central Piedmont looks forward to advancing opportunities for all CMS students in the future by learning directly from our CMS partners what additional avenues will meet their needs so they may persist and complete.”

  • Female Veterans Connect to VA Healthcare Benefits

    On May 11, Central Piedmont hosted a “VA Women’s Health Reengagement Training” event on its Cato Campus to give women veterans in the Charlotte region an opportunity to mingle with their peers and to learn more about the Veteran Administration’s (VA) veteran- and women-centered healthcare services.

    The event was part of Women Veterans Health Reengagement Training’s (heaRT) initiative to raise awareness of the VA’s healthcare policy changes so more female veterans will enroll and take advantage of the healthcare benefits that are available to them.

    “Women veterans are one of the largest demographics to not utilize VA healthcare benefits,” said Richard Bartell, director of Central Piedmont’s Military Families and Veterans Services. “Many of them don’t know that even if they have TRICARE or private insurance, they’re still eligible. That’s why this event is so important, it’s connecting our veterans to the benefits they need and deserve.”

    During the four-hour event, participants networked with one another and learned more about:

    • women’s health services
    • whole health and mental health services
    • how to determine their VA care eligibility
    • how to enroll in VA

    Central Piedmont was one of two sites in North Carolina to host a Women Veterans heaRT event this month. A total of 13 Women Veterans heaRT events are scheduled to be held throughout the Southeast and the Midwest during May and June.

    Learn more about Central Piedmont’s Military Families and Veterans Services.

  • Central Piedmont holds 2022 commencement ceremony

    Central Piedmont Community College today hosted its 2021-2022 commencement ceremony at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte. Almost 900 students “marched” and received their college degrees. More than 2,300 students were eligible to graduate this year.

    During the morning festivities, Mr. Kevin Tobin, a 2022 graduate, addressed his peers by delivering this year’s commencement address. Ms. Evelyn Hill, also a 2022 graduate, was the commencement speaker at the 2 p.m., ceremony. This is the fifth time Central Piedmont has had student keynote speakers at graduation. Evelyn and Kevin both graduated from Central Piedmont with an Associate in Applied Science degree in human services technology – substance abuse.

    Students matriculating from Central Piedmont with a curriculum degree, diploma, or certificate had the option of participating in either the morning or afternoon ceremony. This is the first year Central Piedmont combined its for-credit and non-credit programs into a single ceremony, giving graduates the choice to “walk” in the graduation ceremony that better fit their families’ schedule.

    In addition to hearing Evelyn’s powerful message during the 2 p.m., ceremony, attendees also saw Dr. Deitemeyer, president of Central Piedmont, confer an Honorary Associate Degree in Arts to Mr. Wilton L. Parr, a long-time Central Piedmont student, volunteer, and donor.

    Central Piedmont will offer two commencement ceremonies this year to honor its graduates. 2022 summer and fall semester graduates will participate in a special commencement service on December 13, 2022, at 10 a.m., at Bojangles Coliseum. The addition of a fall ceremony will allow the college’s summer and fall graduates to be honored in the same timely way as its spring graduates.

    View photos from the day's festivities in our online gallery.

  • Second Cohort of STRIVE Scholars Graduates

    Central Piedmont is excited to announce that its second cohort of STRIVE Scholars graduated yesterday during a special commencement ceremony on the college’s Harris Campus.

    The STRIVE (Strengthening Teachers. Reaching Individuals. Valuing Everyone.) Scholars program is a joint early childhood education initiative between the college, Mecklenburg County, The Foundation for the Carolinas, and the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council that seeks to address a local shortage in the public Pre-K teacher workforce. The program accomplishes this goal by removing the many financial and personal barriers students who are pursuing an associate degree in early childhood education may face by providing them with better access and the support services they need to succeed.

    Founded in January 2020, the STRIVE Scholars Program has graduated 38 students to date. Twenty-five scholars graduated from the program during the May 10 ceremony, and more STRIVE scholarships are set to be awarded to eligible students in summer and fall 2022.

    The program provides full tuition, fees, books, and materials funding to academically-qualified applicants preparing to become educators of young children in Mecklenburg County. In addition to receiving financial assistance, scholars also receive access to mental health supports, professional and personal development opportunities, and can apply for need-based support, including assistance with transportation and child care.

    “The STRIVE Scholars program supports higher education access by removing barriers that may cause a student to lose focus and not be able to give 100 percent to their studies,” said Toria Grant, STRIVE recruitment project manager and an early childhood education instructor at Central Piedmont. “This program helps us produce graduates who are prepared to serve the county’s ever-growing pre-k population by providing Mecklenburg’s youngsters with a high quality pre-K education that will better prepare them for their primary education and achieving academic success in the future.”

    Learn more about the program or attend a virtual STRIVE information session.

  • Dr. Deitemeyer named to most influential leader list

    Congratulations to Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, president of Central Piedmont, on being named to Business North Carolina’s “Power List 2022,” a comprehensive list of North Carolina’s most influential leaders.

    Dr. Deitemeyer is one of 25 leaders named in the list’s education category which features some of the education industry’s most notable leaders whose success is considered essential for the state to make economic and social progress. View the complete list of this year’s honorees.

    Business North Carolina has shared the stories of North Carolina’s business community for more than 40 years. Each spring and fall, the publication publishes a special annual publication – the Spring North Carolina Power List and the Fall North Carolina Economic Development Guide.

    The special spring issue always includes a list of the state’s most powerful leaders, compiled with insight from the publication’s editorial team and keen observers of state industry. The purpose of the Spring North Carolina Power List is to shed light on the folks who are driving much of the change in the state and who are making a significant impact in their enterprises, industries, and communities.

    Kudos to Dr. Deitemeyer on this accomplishment and to her fellow honorees.

  • Head of U.S. Small Business Administration visits Central Piedmont

    In celebration of Small Business Week (May 2 – 5, 2022), Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, visited Central Piedmont on May 5 as part of the Biden Administration’s “Building a Better America through Entrepreneurship” national bus tour.

    The national tour is taking place this week, providing Administrator Guzman with an opportunity to collaborate with SBA offices located across the country and celebrate America’s small businesses that have played a critical role in contributing to the country’s economic health.

    Central Piedmont was one of nine stops on Administrator Guzman’s agenda; she previously visited San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Augusta (GA), Columbia and Richburg (SC), and Norfolk (VA).

    During her stop in Charlotte, she:

    Administrator Guzman will conclude her tour in Raleigh on May 6, at which time she will tour the capital’s N.C. Rural Economic Development Center and recognize the N.C. Small Business Person of the Year.

    For more information about the bus tour and National Small Business Week, visit

    Learn more about Central Piedmont’s Small Business Center.

  • College partners on the 3rd-Annual ‘53 Ideas Pitch Competition’ with Fifth Third Bank

    Central Piedmont Community College is partnering on the third-annual “53 Ideas Pitch Competition,” an initiative that began in 2020, with support from Fifth Third Bank to provide anyone with ideas access to the capital, training and social connections needed to take an idea and turn it into a viable business.

    Contestants will compete for cash awards and have access to training resources and expanded networks to build social connections. Training and coaching on pitching, financing, forecasting, and general business will be available to every participant, even if they do not make the top 53. These free resources will be offered by Small Business Centers located at community colleges throughout the region, including Central Piedmont, Cleveland, Gaston, Mitchell, Rowan-Cabarrus, South Piedmont and Stanly.

    “If you look around, everything you see with the exception of people and nature was brought to life through the idea of an entrepreneur,” said Larry Swayne, director of Central Piedmont’s Small Business Center. “Ideas truly impact the world, and we’re excited to support the brightest and best new ideas with this pitch competition.”

    To enter, individuals have 53 seconds to share their idea in the form of a video submitted at Round one is based on the idea. Contestants do not have to excel at pitching, they just need to share who they are, their idea, the problem it solves, how it is new or superior to an existing product or service, and how they can make it happen. Judges will select the top-53 ideas and those contestants will move on in the competition to receive training to help them prepare a three-minute pitch for the second round of the competition. Judges will then narrow the field to the top 10 and those selected will receive $250 before moving forward to compete in the Pitch Day finale. The top spot will receive $10,000, second place $5,000 and third place $2,500 to help turn their idea into a viable business.

    “We are committed to supporting entrepreneurship across Charlotte and throughout North Carolina,” said Joel Dancy, vice president, Community & Economic Development, Mid-Atlantic Region, Fifth Third Bank. “We are very excited to again be supporting the ‘53 Ideas Pitch Competition’ because it not only helps in the short term with access to capital for the winners, but also in the long term through financial education for all participants.”

    Last year’s competition received more than 130 entries. Nicole Hawthorne was announced the winner for Jayla’s Heirlooms, a business providing handcrafted diverse dolls. Nicole went on to partner with Amazon, where her culturally diverse dolls are available for children and families worldwide. The competition is led by the Small Business Center located at South Piedmont Community College.

    To learn more and enter this year’s pitch competition by the May 31 deadline, visit


  • Central Piedmont Partnership with BCBS of North Carolina Aims to Build Diversity in Insurance Industry

    Through a partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Central Piedmont Community College has received $211,485 to provide scholarships to develop a more diverse and inclusive talent pool of trained and licensed individuals for the insurance production and sales industry. The goal of the partnership is to increase access to underserved populations and communities by diversifying the pool of licensed insurance agents.

    Central Piedmont will use the funds to offer scholarships to 26 students per year for five years to cover the cost of insurance pre-licensing courses provided by the college plus licensing exam fees and NC Department of Insurance fees. As scholarship recipients, students also will receive instruction through the “Working Smart: Essential Skills for Workplace Success and Career Development” program and wrap-around services, including interview preparation, additional academic and career counseling, and small business counseling.

    Scholarship eligibility is open to persons who meet one or more of the following criteria:

    • Black
    • Hispanic
    • Bilingual – English-Spanish
    • Female
    • Age 18-49
    • Workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Persons in transition – leaving high school or college, or looking to make a career change.

    Interested individuals can apply to the program starting in May. Successful applicants will be notified in July, with classes beginning in late-August.

    “Central Piedmont is so appreciative of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for making such an investment to advance diversity in the field of insurance agents,” said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president. “We know this program will generate much interest and provide another pathway at the college that will lead to rewarding and family-sustaining careers with great opportunities for advancement, perhaps even business ownership.”

    For more information, contact Hunter Smith, director of Central Piedmont’s James R. Worrell Sr. Financial Services Institute, at 704-330-4685 and

  • U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal visits Central Piedmont

    On April 12, U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal visited Central Piedmont Community College on our Central Campus to learn about Central Piedmont’s apprenticeship and other workplace learning programs. He also took a tour of the state-of-the-art Ruth G. Shaw Advanced Technology Center (ATC).

    Central Piedmont was honored to host Under Secretary Kvaal and discuss how apprenticeships and other workplace learning programs prepare students for well-paying, high-demand careers in some of the Charlotte region’s fastest-growing industries. 

    Under Secretary Kvaal began his visit with a roundtable discussion about how apprenticeship programs benefit employers by providing a pipeline of well-trained talent. Several college and Workplace Learning Department leaders took part in the discussion, including:

    • Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, president
    • Dr. Heather Hill, vice president - academic affairs
    • Mr. Jeff Lowrance, vice president – communications, marketing & public relations
    • Mr. Ed Injaychock, director – workplace learning

    After the discussion, the group moved to the Ruth G. Shaw Advanced Technology Center where Mr. Rinav

    Mehta, dean of business, technology and engineering, and members of his team led the tour of the ATC. It is a 79,194 square-foot, cutting-edge, state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing, engineering, logistics and energy-related careers training facility that opened in 2018. Its prominent location on Central Piedmont’s Central Campus points to its importance  in developing a highly skilled workforce in Mecklenburg County and the college’s ongoing efforts to provide opportunities for increased economic mobility. 

    The  Shaw Advanced Technology Center includes:

    • Mechatronics and Automation Labs
    • Virtual Reality (VR) Labs
    • Engineering FabLab (fabrication lab)
    • CNC Machining Lab
    • Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Labs
    • 13 Computer Labs
    • 11 Specialized Equipment Labs