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Foundation creates scholarship for VGCC students in memory of Vance County native

The Watkins Family Foundation, created by the estate of Vance County native Edward Tarry Watkins, has donated $25,000 to the Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund to endow a scholarship to help underprivileged women.

The donation to VGCC is actually the first made by the newly-established, Houston, Texas-based foundation, according to Meghan Watkins Thompson, a granddaughter of Watkins.

“I recall that my grandfather would always tell me, ‘you educate the woman, you educate the family,’” Thompson said.

Among family members who remain in the Henderson area is Watkins’ nephew, George Rose Watkins, who has also endowed a scholarship through the VGCC Endowment Fund to help students and regularly plays in the college’s annual benefit golf tournament. His family’s company, Rose Oil, is also a longtime supporter of VGCC and other community organizations.

“The Watkins Family Foundation was created specifically for the education of underprivileged women,” Thompson added. “George and I appreciate Vance-Granville making Ed’s wish a reality.”

This new scholarship will be a “Presidential Scholar Award,” the college’s largest, most prestigious level of endowed scholarship.

“The Edward Tarry Watkins Memorial Presidential Scholar Award represents the lasting legacy of a generous man who never forgot his hometown and demonstrated the same dedication to service and philanthropy as other members of his extended family,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of VGCC. “For generations to come, his vision will empower women to obtain the higher education they need to support themselves, their families and their communities.”

Ed Watkins, or “Bitz,” as he was called by his family, was born in Henderson in 1919, the son of William Thomas and Nannie Tarry Watkins. A 1940 Davidson College graduate, he joined the Army Air Corps after college and moved from North Carolina to Texas, serving as a bombardier flight instructor and also working with Minneapolis Honeywell to couple the Norden bombsight to the B-17 autopilot. Watkins retired from active duty in 1949 as a lieutenant colonel.

He and his wife, Hazel, moved to Houston in 1951, where he worked for Merrill Lynch before founding his own brokerage and investment advisory firm, Watkins & Company, Inc.

Active in his community and a supporter of many social and charitable causes, Watkins supported the Embassy Square Foundation in its development of the Perry Memorial Library in downtown Henderson. He and a friend also helped to establish a technical school for underprivileged children in Kun-Ming, China.

After passing away in July 2006 at the age of 87, he was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Henderson.

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 8,800 scholarships to students since 1982. Scholarships have been endowed by numerous individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business or industry with a lasting gift to education. For more information about the Endowment Fund, call (252) 738-3409.

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Rusty Pace honored for leadership at VGCC

Rusty Pace, program head for Welding Technology at Vance-Granville Community College, was recently honored with the President’s Leadership Award from Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of the college.

Pace’s honor is one of three Glen Raven Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Awards presented to VGCC employees during each academic year. The others, the Faculty Member of the Year and Staff Member of the Year awards, are presented in the fall semester. Glen Raven, Inc., the manufacturer with a site in Norlina, is a longtime VGCC partner. The company’s support includes sponsoring the annual stipends to recognize outstanding VGCC instructors and staff members, and endowing many scholarships for students.

Dr. Williams praised Pace as an innovative faculty leader. “Under Rusty’s leadership, the Welding program, which was already well-known for excellence, has increased its retention rate while also expanding from a one-year diploma to an associate degree program,” the president said. “He has worked hand-in-hand with our Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant department staff to grow his program, meeting the needs of both our students and our local employers.”

Williams also noted that Pace has demonstrated a commitment to professional development, by traveling as far away as Ohio for welding technology training, by attending a conference related to the TAACCCT grant in Florida and by taking courses at the college in online education and computer skills.

A Louisburg resident and native of Franklinton, Pace enrolled at VGCC fresh out of Franklinton High School. He graduated from VGCC with a diploma in Welding in 1978 and quickly became certified through the Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory. Pace worked as a welder for many years in Wake Forest and Franklin County, eventually opening his own business. He later completed an associate degree in Welding at Nash Community College.

Pace returned to teach Welding at VGCC on a part-time basis in 1998 and became a full-time instructor in 2004. Pace was promoted to the role of program head in 2007. At the college, he has served on the Professional Advisory Committee, the Judicial Committee and the Student Success Committee, and completed the VGCC Leadership Institute in 2006.

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VGCC Male Mentoring Success Story: Chris Blue

Christopher Blue of Henderson is an outstanding representative of the purpose of the Vance-Granville Community College Male Mentoring Success Initiative (MMSI), which seeks to guide and support male students to graduate or transfer to a four-year university. This year, Blue is set to do both: he is on track to graduate from the college with two degrees in May 2017, at around the same time as he graduates from Vance County Early College High School, and then, he plans to transfer to East Carolina University.

“I’ve enjoyed so many things about the male mentoring program and the opportunities that the program has presented to me,” Blue reflected. “An example is the trip to Atlanta with the mentoring program in 2016. I learned so many new things, while making relationships with new people in the group. We have become practically brothers throughout the years of being in the program.” The educational tour included stops at universities and historic sites such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s boyhood home.

Blue has served in the office of Recorder/Treasurer for the male mentoring program and was honored with the program’s PRIDE Award for Engagement in 2016.

Blue’s mother, Tamara Neal, is a graduate of the VGCC Associate Degree Nursing program. “So I knew that VGCC was going to be a great place, and after five years, I can honestly say they didn’t disappoint,” Blue said. “VGCC has given me so much over the years, and I truly appreciate it.”

Blue was honored as “Youth of the Year” by the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central North Carolina in 2016. In that capacity, he has had opportunities to speak to the Henderson Rotary Club and to represent area Boys & Girls Clubs at their statewide convention in Asheville. Blue said that through the local Boys & Girls Club, he has developed his communication and leadership skills. Boys & Girls Clubs Vance County Unit Director Evelyn Taylor was quoted in The Daily Dispatch as saying, “Chris is working to make his community better by providing a positive example for the younger children of our club. He assists them with their homework and is a great example to them of what a responsible teen looks like and acts like.”

Also in 2016, Blue participated in the Governor’s Page Program in Raleigh. “This was a great experience because I was able to learn more about how government works firsthand,” he said.

Soon, Blue plans to transfer to East Carolina University and major in Public Health with Pre-Health professions. “Afterwards, I plan to go to dental school to become a Prosthodontist,” a dentist who specializes in the esthetic restoration and replacement of teeth, Blue added.

“Christopher has proven himself to be a young man of integrity,” said Anthony Pope, co-coordinator of the MMSI. “His dedication to the MMSI has served as an example for other Early College mentees. I am certain that he will excel in accomplishing the goals that he has set for himself.”

For more information on the male mentoring initiative, contact co-coordinators Anthony Pope at [email protected] or (252) 738-3395, or Michael Farmer at [email protected] or (252) 738-3234.

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VGCC surpasses $6 million in grant funding with new initiative

Vance-Granville Community College’s Grants Office has now surpassed $6 million in funding to support students, the VGCC Board of Trustees was informed on Monday night, Jan. 23, at its regular bimonthly meeting on Main Campus.

In its brief four-year history, the Grants Office has secured 37 grants totaling $6,053,883, according to Dr. Ken Lewis, Vance-Granville’s vice president of institutional research and technology.

Among the largest grants, $1,757,299 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program is the single largest competitive grant award received in the history of the college. TAACCCT supports the development of innovative training programs for advanced manufacturing careers. The college started its Mechatronics program and expanded its Welding program through the grant.

The Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training Alliance (AMSTA) with the four public school systems in the college’s coverage area was created with a $1.2 million grant from the North Carolina Education and Workforce Innovation Fund. In addition, $460,000 has been awarded to the Training Alliance by the Golden LEAF Foundation, along with grants of $245,923 and $237,757 from the Duke Energy Foundation to purchase state-of-the-art equipment.

And, most recently, VGCC was awarded nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to launch the North Carolina TechHire Program to train students in information technology and advanced manufacturing programs.

 

In addition to the TechHire grant, Dr. Lewis said the most recent awards include:

  • A pair of Male Mentoring Success Initiative grants over two years, totaling $34,000, to help students stay in school and on track to graduate or transfer to a four-year university;
  • A Wake Electric grant of $3,000 to fund classroom technology;
  • An NC Works Career Coach grant of $17,000 in partnership with the Granville and Warren County school systems to promote college attendance and Career & College Promise (CCP) classes in the high schools;
  • A Perkins grant, $181,000, supporting the college’s Business and Applied Technologies and Health Sciences curriculum programs;
  • A Library Services and Technology Act planning grant of $23,000 for space utilization upgrades;
  • A Cannon Foundation grant of $150,000 to complete renovation of Main Campus Building 10;
  • A National Summer Transportation Institute grant from the Federal Highway Administration, $37,000, allowing high school students in Warren County to learn more about career opportunities in transportation-related industries; and
  • A Taste of Industry grant of $10,000 from the North Carolina Community College System to support AMSTA in conjunction with Granville County Schools.

 

The grants update was included in the report of the Curriculum Committee, chaired by Barbara Cates Harris. In the committee’s reports, Dr. Angela Ballentine, the college’s vice president of academic affairs, also updated the board on the annual Continuing Education and Basic Skills visitation report.

Building Improvements

The board approved recommendations of the Building Committee, chaired by Trustee Donald Seifert, ranking in priority order the firms to design and oversee exterior masonry repairs and restoration as well as HVAC replacements and fire alarm system installations. Both Main Campus projects will be funded by the Connect NC bonds approved by state voters in March 2016.

At an estimated cost of $1 million, the college plans to restore, structurally repair and waterproof building masonry roof lines, walls and building bridges that have deteriorated over time because of the penetration of water/moisture into and through the building structures. REI Engineers of Raleigh was chosen as the highest ranked firm for the masonry project.

The primary focus of the HVAC/fire alarm project, estimated to cost $4.1 million, is to replace existing deteriorated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with new systems that provide greater stability, control and energy efficiency, and to replace existing fire alarm systems with new addressable systems that meet state code compliance. Engineered Designs, Inc., of Cary was selected as the highest ranked firm for the project.

VGCC is receiving $7.6 million from the $2 billion Connect NC Public Improvement Bond package. Funds may be used for the repair and renovation of facilities to meet the educational needs of students and/or the construction of new facilities to expand programs and services.

Other Action

In other action:

  • The board approved Mid-Year Amendments to the 2016-2017 Budget. The adjustments were necessary to account for $1,664,312 in carryover funds from the previous year and grant funding.
  • Trustee Sara Wester, chair of the Personnel Committee, reported on new employees and resignations.
  • Trustee Opie Frazier, chair of the Investment Committee, reported a gain on the college’s investments now being managed by First Citizens Wealth Management.
  • Dr. Stelfanie Williams, VGCC’s president, updated the trustees on activities since the board last met in November. She also announced the dates of upcoming events: a Valentine’s Day Luncheon sponsored by the college’s Culinary Arts program, Feb. 16; a North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees Law and Legislative Seminar in Raleigh, March 29-31; the fifth annual Dinner Theater, April 27-28, in the Civic Center on Main Campus; the annual VGCC Endowment Fund Golf Tournament, May 2, at the Henderson Country Club; and Commencement, May 12, at the gazebo on Main Campus.

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is set for Monday, March 20, on the Main Campus.

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All VGCC Campuses to close at 3:00 p.m. Today

All campuses of Vance-Granville Community College will close today, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, at 3 p.m. Evening and weekend activities are cancelled.

All campuses of VGCC will be closed on Saturday, Jan. 7, and Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017.

Thank you.

Andrew Beal, Public Information Officer

[email protected]

(252) 738-3322

Free small business tax workshop scheduled at VGCC Franklin Campus

The Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center will present a free workshop, called “Sales & Use Tax 101,” on Thursday, Jan. 19, from 2-4 p.m. in room F1208 at the college’s Franklin County Campus, located just outside Louisburg.

In this hands-on workshop, Rhonda High of the N.C. Department of Revenue will help small business owners understand the basics of sales and use taxes, including registering for a sales and use tax account and learning about the most common types of sales and use taxes collected. High will also discuss the proper procedures for filing a sales and use tax return.

At the end of the workshop, there will be a question and answer session with the presenter, as well as opportunities to network with other business owners.

For more information and to reserve a seat, contact the Small Business Center at [email protected] or (252) 738-3240.  Registration can be completed online at www.vgcc.edu/schedules/small-business-center.

VGCC offers seminar on starting a new business in the New Year

The Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center is offering a free seminar for local residents whose New Year’s resolutions include starting a small business.

“So You Think You Want to Start a Business” is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, from 6 until 9 p.m., in room 7109 (Building 7) on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County.

The seminar, led by instructor Bob Moore, is designed for individuals who are thinking about starting and operating their own business but wonder if they have the personality, drive, creativity, adaptability, and other talents or attributes that are associated with successful entrepreneurs.

During this seminar, attendees will honestly assess themselves in order to discover their strengths and weaknesses. The seminar will also incorporate various exercises and role-playing activities that illustrate realistic challenges encountered by entrepreneurs. Attendees will be given the opportunity to present their business ideas, and they will be shown various ways to determine if the idea is feasible and viable. After attending this seminar, if an attendee makes the decision to move forward, they will be strongly encouraged to register for seminars offered by the VGCC Small Business Center.

A graduate of Fayetteville State University, Bob Moore is a longtime small business owner and serves as director of the Small Business Center at Robeson Community College in Lumberton. He was honored as the Small Business Center Director of the Year for the entire North Carolina Community College System in 2013.

For more information and to reserve a seat in this free seminar, contact Small Business Center director Tanya Weary at [email protected] or (252) 738-3240.

Registration can be completed online at www.vgcc.edu/schedules/small-business-center.

VGCC trustees approve new Associate Degree in Visual Arts

Vance-Granville Community College’s Board of Trustees approved the offering of an Associate in Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts beginning in the fall of 2017 as the trustees met for their bi-monthly meeting on the Main Campus on Nov. 21.

The board also welcomed Jennifer P. “Jenny” Hester of Henderson as a newly appointed trustee, received preliminary plans for capital improvements on four campuses, and celebrated the results of the latest faculty and staff campaign to support the VGCC Endowment Fund.

Hester, who works in real estate and development in Henderson, was sworn in by Resident Superior Court Judge Henry W. “Chip” Hight of Henderson. Appointed for a four-year term on the board by N.C. Governor Pat McCrory, she replaces Dr. Doris Terry Williams of Henderson, who had served since November 2010.

The Fine Arts degree will be added to the Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees already being offered by Vance-Granville. A minimum of 60 semester hours of College Transfer courses will be required in English; communications, humanities and fine arts; social and behavioral sciences; mathematics; and natural sciences, in addition to classes in art history, two-dimensional and three-dimensional design, and drawing. For graduates who wish to complete a four-year degree, course credits will transfer to all 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina System under the state’s Comprehensive Articulation Agreement.

The board’s action came on a recommendation from the trustees’ Curriculum Committee, chaired by Trustee Barbara Cates Harris. With board approval, the College will now submit the program to the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) and the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC) for their approvals.

In other action from the Curriculum Committee, the board voted to approve closure of the Associate in Applied Science in Entrepreneurship program. Citing consistent low enrollment, Harris said the program will end in the fall of 2017 with a “teach-out plan” for currently enrolled students through Spring Semester 2018. The program was designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and growth as self-employed business owners. The College continues to offer a variety of related programs in Business Administration, Accounting and Office Administration, among others.

Faculty-Staff Drive for Scholarships

The co-chairs of the annual faculty and staff drive on Vance-Granville’s four campuses announced to the Trustees that $20,079 was raised this fall from among employees to support the mission of the College and students through scholarships.

The drive co-chairs were Kristi Salmons-Ellenberg, department chair and instructor for Social Sciences; Willie Mae Foster-Hill, Main Campus receptionist; and Steven Sievert, instructor for Computer Education.

VGCC awarded 301 scholarships at its annual awards ceremony this October. The funds raised by the faculty and staff this year will help with future scholarships.

Capital improvements

The Board of Trustees received a preliminary look at capital improvement projects that may be made possible with the $7.6 million in funds that the College is receiving through the Connect NC bonds approved by statewide voters this past March.

Projects are proposed at all four campuses, according to Trustee Donald C. Seifert, Sr., chair of the Building Committee.

Among the largest projects, the replacement of outdated heating, ventilation and air conditioning and fire alarm systems on Main Campus is projected to cost around $4 million. Exterior masonry repairs and restoration, also on Main Campus, are projected at around $1 million. Both projects will enter the design phase in January 2017 with a proposed construction start date of August 2017, Seifert said.

Other projects, depending upon available funds, could include, on Main Campus, the remodeling of restrooms, renovations to several instructional areas, and the construction of a “burn building” for the Fire/Rescue department in Continuing Education; at South Campus, the replacement of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment; at Franklin, renovations to a lab and boiler replacement; and at Warren, gas pack and heat pump replacements. The Connect NC Bond funds must be designated for repairs and renovations or the construction of new facilities.

In addition to the Connect NC Bond projects, Seifert said roof renovations to Building 6 on Main Campus are in the design phase, and the project will be bid out in February and completed in the summer of 2017. Remaining balances from other renovations on Main and South campuses will be available for space utilization improvements and repairs and renovations, respectively, Seifert said. Among those improvements, Steve Graham, Vance-Granville’s vice president for finance and operations, said a Bioprocess Technology laboratory on Main Campus is being retrofitted to house a new curriculum program in Histotechnology. The Bioprocess program is moving to the Franklin County Campus.

Other Action

In other action:

  • Trustee Sara Wester, chair of the Personnel Committee, reported on new employees, retirements and resignations. Among those retiring is Jacquelin “Jackie” Heath, program head and instructor for School-Age Education. Heath, who began employment on Sept. 15, 1976, and retires in January, is Vance-Granville’s longest-serving full-time faculty or staff member.
  • Trustee L. Opie Frazier, Jr., co-chair of the Investment Committee, and Steve Graham, Vance-Granville’s vice president of finance and operations, updated the board on the move of the College’s investments to First Citizens Wealth Management in October. In September, the board approved the firm as the financial advisor, ratifying the designation of the firm by the VGCC Endowment Fund Board of Directors.
  • In her report to the trustees, President Dr. Stelfanie Williams reported on recent activities and events at Vance-Granville. Among those, she noted upcoming holiday events, including the Vance-Granville Community Band’s Holiday Concert on Monday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m.

The next meeting of the VGCC Board of Trustees will be held on Monday, Jan. 23, at the Main Campus.

VGCC programs receive high national rankings

Three national organizations recently recognized Vance-Granville Community College with high rankings for high-quality, affordable education, offered online or on-campus.

The Community for Accredited Online Schools (AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org), a leading resource for higher education and college accreditation information, recently released its national rankings for the 2016-2017 school year. The organization ranked VGCC as having the nation’s 34th Best Pharmacy Technician program as well as the nation’s 49th Best Beauty/Cosmetology program.

VGCC offers Cosmetology at all four of its campuses, while the Pharmacy Technology program is based on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County. Both programs have options for certain courses to be completed online or in hybrid formats combining online and traditional face-to-face instruction. The college offers certificate and diploma programs in Cosmetology, a Cosmetology Instructor certificate, along with both a diploma and a two-year associate degree in Pharmacy Technology.

“We wanted to highlight schools like Vance-Granville Community College, who are striving for excellence in education,” said Doug Jones, CEO and Founder of the California-based Community for Accredited Online Schools. “These colleges offer an exceptional educational experience, upholding rigorous accreditation standards and showing an overall commitment to maximizing student success.”

In order for colleges to qualify for the rankings, they must hold public or private not-for-profit status and carry institutional accreditation. Top schools are determined by using a value-based methodology that analyzes more than a dozen qualitative and quantitative data points.

Meanwhile, Nevada-based Affordable Colleges Online (AffordableCollegesOnline.org) has ranked VGCC as the 25th “Best Online College” in North Carolina for 2016-2017. The organization evaluated colleges and universities based on cost of tuition and fees, the percentage of full-time students receiving institutional financial aid, the number of online programs offered, and the student-to-teacher ratio. Affordable Colleges Online has distinguished its ranking scale by the use of Peer-Based Value, or PBV. The PBV score compares the cost of each program to the cost of similar programs with the same qualitative score. Earlier this year, AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org ranked VGCC as the top two-year college in North Carolina for online programs.

VGCC has expanded its online course offerings in recent years. In 2015, the college launched the VOLT (Vanguard Online Learning through Technology) initiative, primarily with working adults in mind. Through VOLT, five two-year degree programs are now offered 100-percent online — Associate in Arts (College Transfer), Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Medical Office Administration – Coding Specialist, and Global Logistics and Distribution Management Technology. In addition, students can take online courses in combination with traditional face-to-face courses to complete any VGCC degree program.

VOLT students enjoy several specific benefits, including priority registration and guaranteed course availability. They also have access to many online resources that are available to all VGCC students, such as library services, testing and the Bookstore. Courses offered through VOLT have the same low tuition as all other VGCC courses, making them more affordable than their counterparts at for-profit institutions. In addition, Duke Energy, a longtime corporate supporter of VGCC, has provided funds for scholarships specifically for VOLT students. For more information about VOLT, visit volt.vgcc.edu or call Evelyn Harris at (252) 738-3254, or Melanie Copeland at (252) 738-3271.

One of the VOLT programs, Criminal Justice, was recognized by AffordableColleges.com as number 21 on the list of the nation’s 50 best values in online associate degrees in Criminal Justice. “In our rigorous review of schools across the nation, we set out to find the programs that combine quality with affordability, and VGCC rose to the top,” said Vanessa Green of Texas-based AffordableColleges.com. “Our mission is to help students find a path to a rewarding, quality education that won’t leave them crippled by student debt. We love connecting students with institutions that match those ideals, and we’re pleased to feature VGCC.” On its website, the organization noted that “VGCC is a state leader in delivering online courses, as well as fully-online degree programs; the school uses the Moodle content management system.”
“The faculty and staff at Vance-Granville continue to demonstrate excellence and innovation, which is reflected in these national rankings,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of VGCC. “More and more people are realizing the value that our programs offer, as we educate, inspire and support Vanguards to prepare for success in Cosmetology, Criminal Justice, Pharmacy Technology or any number of other career fields.”

Registration is going on now for the spring 2017 semester at VGCC, which begins Jan. 9.

Vance-Granville awarded $150k for public safety training

The Cannon Foundation Board of Directors recently approved a $150,000 grant to the Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund to renovate a 3,200-square-foot space on the college’s Main Campus for an Emergency Simulation Lab.

The new lab will enable law enforcement and emergency services departments in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties to train and certify their current and future public safety workers using a realistic scenario-based curriculum in a controlled environment.

The grant will be used, along with funds from the Connect NC bond (approved by North Carolina voters earlier this year), to complete the final phase of Building 10, which opened in August on the main campus in Vance County. The building houses classrooms, labs and faculty for VGCC’s law enforcement, fire/rescue and emergency medical services education and training programs.

“We are very pleased to receive this grant, because it will allow Vance-Granville to further enhance our vital partnerships with the local agencies that protect and serve our communities,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of VGCC. “We’re excited about the possibilities that this new lab will provide for us to serve students and our public safety partners.”

The Cannon Foundation, based in Concord, N.C., is part of the philanthropic legacy of Charles A. Cannon, an industrialist and humanitarian who was president and chairman of Cannon Mills Company for more than half a century.

“Our region is fortunate that VGCC has hands-on, real-life emergency simulation equipment to train students and professionals in public safety careers,” said Kaine Riggan, VGCC’s grants and government relations coordinator. “The simulation lab will give us a new facility in which to provide training for first responders throughout our four counties to be prepared for emergency scenarios, which saves lives.”

VGCC’s PRISim ShootBack system, for instance, fires plastic ammunition up to 110 miles per hour, teaching life-saving defense techniques and methods for using less-than-lethal force, when appropriate.

The college is currently seeking a $15,000 sponsor for a new EMS simulation mannequin that can, among other things, simulate stroke symptoms, ensuring that students are more prepared to recognize and call the stroke code into the ER, where saving even a minute can save a life.

VGCC is now starting the design phase of the renovation project, which will complete the overhaul of the 16,000-square-foot building, a former commercial structure that was purchased by the college in 2010.