VGCC puts Associate in Arts degree on fast track

Vance-Granville Community College is introducing a new way for students to complete the first two years of a four-year degree on an accelerated timetable.

Starting with the fall semester that begins in August 2017, students will have the option to earn the 60-credit-hour Associate in Arts (College Transfer) degree in just three semesters: fall, spring and summer. Under the standard pathway currently in place, full-time students typically complete the Associate in Arts in five or six semesters (while taking courses in the summer on a part-time basis).

“The VGCC Division of Arts and Sciences is very excited to be able to offer a new accelerated pathway for the Associate in Arts,” said Cynthia Young, the college’s dean of arts and sciences. “This will allow dedicated students the ability to complete a two-year degree in just one year and quickly move on to a four-year university.”

The new pathway will be rigorous, with students taking a combination of 16-week and eight-week courses. For example, during the fall semester, students on the accelerated schedule will take two courses over the entire 16 weeks, four other courses during the first eight weeks and three others during the second eight weeks. A student would take a maximum of six courses at any one time. Only three courses would be required in the eight-week summer term.

Some required courses will be taken online, while others may be taken either online or in the traditional face-to-face format.

Students must first either complete or place out of any developmental coursework in order to complete the degree on this schedule.

The Associate in Arts (A.A.) is ideally suited for students who want to pursue bachelor’s degrees in communication, education, humanities, fine arts, languages, and social and behavioral sciences. Students in the program complete essentially the same required general education courses that they would take at most four-year universities and colleges. Graduates with an A.A. who make a grade of “C” or better in every course are assured of admission into one of the 16 universities in the University of North Carolina system, usually transferring in with junior ranking.

In the past few years, the comprehensive articulation agreements between all North Carolina community colleges, the UNC System and the private N.C. Independent Colleges and Universities have been revised with clearer pathways, simplifying the transfer of credits for both A.A. and Associate in Science (A.S.) graduates.

Registration for the fall semester at VGCC is currently ongoing, and ends on Aug. 10.

For more information on the accelerated pathway, contact Oluwunmi Ariyo at (252) 738-3270 or [email protected].


VGCC offers online four-week summer classes

Students can earn college credits on an accelerated schedule at Vance-Granville Community College by taking four-week online classes this summer.

For the first time, VGCC has scheduled certain curriculum courses on back-to-back four-week schedules during the summer term. The first four-week mini-term will begin May 30 and end on June 26. Then, the second mini-term starts June 27 and ends on July 31.

Five courses are scheduled for the first mini-term: Personal Health/Wellness (HEA 110), Critical Thinking (HUM 115), Music Appreciation (MUS 110), American Government (POL 120) and Keyboarding (OST 131). All five are offered completely online. During the second mini-term, the same courses will be offered, except for Keyboarding.

Registration for these classes is currently underway, and will close on May 25 for the first session and June 23 for the second.

“This summer, students can accelerate their education in a fast-paced period of study,” said Jeffrey Allen, VGCC’s dean of enrollment and outreach. “We had a great response when we offered four-week classes for the first time in late December and early January, so we are excited about continuing to use this format to meet the needs of our diverse learning community.” He added, “These courses can give many students the opportunity to quickly make progress toward a degree.”

Not only current VGCC students, but also new students, including students at four-year universities, are welcome to enroll. Current VGCC students are encouraged to talk with their advisors to see if the four-week courses are right for them.

All the courses on the schedule except for Keyboarding transfer to most North Carolina colleges and universities. Students are encouraged to check with their four-year school of choice on transferability before registering for particular courses. New students will need to complete a VGCC application for admission first.

Financial aid is available for qualified students. For more information, contact the VGCC Financial Aid Office at [email protected] or (252) 738-3280.

For registration information, visit the Student Learning & Success Center on any VGCC campus or call (252) 738-3330.


VGCC adding new Associate in Fine Arts degree

Vance-Granville Community College is preparing to offer an Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) degree in Visual Arts, with classes starting in August. Prospective students can begin the process of enrollment now.

The degree will be a third college transfer option available at the college, joining the Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees already being offered. Earning this two-year AFA degree can serve as a springboard to completing a four-year bachelor’s in fine arts (BFA) degree in visual art at a university. Students will be encouraged to contact four-year universities in which they are interested, to find out about any specific transfer requirements.

In addition to their general education classes, AFA students will take classes in art history, two-dimensional and three-dimensional design, and drawing.

VGCC has offered visual arts classes of different kinds throughout its history. In 2015, VGCC began holding “Fine Arts Day” events, which incorporated not only visual art but also music, dance and dramatic arts.

Isaac Talley, an award-winning visual artist, is a full-time art instructor at VGCC, teaching courses such as Art Appreciation, Two-Dimensional Design, and Drawing. “The AFA will be an excellent way to complete your first two years of college with tuition that’s very affordable, and then proceed on to East Carolina University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro or elsewhere,” Talley said. “It’s a great opportunity, especially for people who are interested in painting, as well as digital photography, which we are planning to add in 2018.”

He added that while at VGCC, students will be able to hone their skills and build a portfolio that can help them gain admission to the university of their choice. They also may simply want more training in art without necessarily continuing to the four-year level. Jessie Hartley of Oxford, a current VGCC College Transfer student who won first place at the college’s juried student art exhibition, said that “the AFA program is appealing to me because it opens up more learning opportunities for me involving art. With the Associate in Arts program, I have learned everything from some early art history to painting and drawing. With the AFA program, my knowledge of art can expand even further with the use of different media and techniques that I possibly haven’t even heard of. It will also help my credibility for future job possibilities involving art.”

Hartley said that she has enjoyed all of the art classes she has taken at VGCC thus far. “In painting and drawing, I enjoyed the freedom and self-control it gave me,” she recalled. “I learned that I could express myself in all manners of ways on a canvas that could speak to the viewer of that piece, perhaps even touch their soul.  In art history and art appreciation, I enjoyed going through the past, learning facts and valuable information and where it all began. All in all, I am really looking forward to the AFA program, and I feel that all art students, including myself, will benefit wonderfully from it.”

After she graduates from VGCC, Hartley’s plan is to develop her own studio as a freelance artist. “I would like to travel to different art festivals and sell my work, as well as learn different crafts and techniques with a diverse range of media,” she said. “I may pursue further education later on, which the AFA degree will help with to enhance my credibility and experience.”

For more information about the AFA program, contact Betsy Henderson at [email protected] or (252) 738-3371.


Computer-aided drafting course offered at VGCC

Vance-Granville Community College has scheduled a “CAD with Solid Edge” course, to be held Monday through Thursday, April 3 through May 25, on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County. Students will choose to take the course on one of two different schedules: 9 a.m. until noon, or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Solid Edge is a Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) software program, produced by Siemens, which is used in a variety of industries, including advanced manufacturing.

This course introduces students to the three-dimensional solid modeling and design software. Topics include design sketching, basic three-dimensional design considerations and techniques, model creation, model editing, model rendering, analysis of solid models and creation of multi-view drawings. Upon completion, students should be able to use design techniques to sketch, model, edit, and render 3D models and generate multi-view 2D drawings. Students will learn how to create and print 2D drawings from 3D solid models and send solid models to a 3D printer.

The instructor for the course is Peter M. Robinson.

Students may become certified through Siemens upon passing the credentialing exam.

The cost of this course is $187 plus the cost of textbooks and the exam.

Registration can be completed online at or in person at any VGCC campus. The deadline to register is March 28. For more information, contact VGCC at [email protected] or (252) 738-3324.


VGCC awards top academic honor to Ivy League-bound student

Vance-Granville Community College has named student Paul Caroline of Louisburg as its recipient of the North Carolina Community College System’s Academic Excellence Award for 2017. One student from each of the 58 colleges in the state system is honored with the award each year.

Caroline will be officially recognized at Commencement in May, when he is scheduled to graduate from the college with both an Associate in Arts degree and an Associate in Science degree. That same month, Caroline will graduate from Franklin County Early College High School. This is the second year in a row that the VGCC Academic Excellence Award has gone to a student at FCECHS.

The college partners with four Early College high school programs, one in each county of the VGCC service area. As Caroline has done, students typically finish the program in five years, simultaneously earning high school diplomas and college degrees, or up to two years of college-transferable credits.

In an essay that he wrote for the award nomination, Caroline put his academic experience into its historical context. “For my family, education has always been a privilege,” he wrote. “In the early twentieth century, laws prohibited my great-grandmother and many other African American students from advancing to the twelfth grade and earning a high school diploma. Since then, each new generation has attested to a strong commitment to the pursuit of educational opportunity.”

Caroline added that “education opens doors to a better life, and one of the greatest thresholds I have crossed on my journey thus far is the iconic archway of Vance-Granville Community College.”

He described the support he has received from faculty members at both the high school and the college as “transformative.” Caroline said that he found that learning “not only yields the power to better oneself, but the world as a whole.” He took the “Vanguard spirit” and VGCC’s commitment to students to heart, he said, by helping others as a Peer Tutor through the college’s Academic Skills Center, starting at the age of 17.

After he graduates, Caroline is set to study Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, the prestigious Ivy League institution, with a full QuestBridge scholarship, which he described as “a first” for his community. “In my personal journey, Vance-Granville Community College has been a stepping-stone to making an Ivy League education possible,” Caroline said.

His twin brother, Peter, is also a Franklin County Early College High School student. Peter is likewise set to graduate with both an Associate in Arts degree and an Associate in Science degree from VGCC and will continue his education at Stanford University with a full QuestBridge scholarship.

“Paul’s hard work and dedication to excellence have earned him a place among the top community college students in North Carolina,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of VGCC. “He is an outstanding representative of both Vance-Granville and Franklin County Early College High School, and we know he will continue to make us proud as a student at one of our country’s elite institutions of higher learning.”


VGCC to host free Dementia Awareness programs

Vance-Granville Community College will soon host a pair of free programs for the public to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia. These educational programs are being facilitated by the Alzheimer’s Association Eastern North Carolina Chapter.

Both events are set to be held on Tuesday, March 21, in the Civic Center on VGCC’s Main Campus in Vance County (located at exit 209 on Interstate 85). First, “The Basics: Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease” will be offered from 10-11 a.m. “Understanding and Responding to Dementia-Related Behaviors” follows from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The first workshop is designed for anyone who would like to know more about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, which are not a normal part of aging.

The second workshop focuses specifically on behavior, one of the primary ways for people with dementia to communicate their needs and feelings as their ability to use language deteriorates. Some behaviors can present challenges for caregivers to manage. Attendees will learn to “decode” behaviors, identify common behavior triggers and learn strategies to help intervene with some of the most common behavioral challenges of Alzheimer’s disease.

VGCC Dean of Health Sciences Angela Thomas and Human Services Technology (HST) program head Tracy Wallace have collaborated with the Raleigh-based Alzheimer’s Association chapter to bring these programs to campus. The HST program, accredited by the Council for Standards in Human Service Education, is based at VGCC’s South Campus between Creedmoor and Butner. The curriculum prepares students for entry-level positions in institutions and agencies which provide social, community, and educational services. In addition to a general HST track and a Substance Abuse track, VGCC offers a Gerontology track, which prepares students to specialize in direct service delivery work to older adults and their families.

To register for one or both of the free March 21 programs, visit for the first and for the second, or call 1-800-272-3900.

For more information, contact the Alzheimer’s Association Eastern North Carolina Chapter at 919-803-8285 or Tracy Wallace at (252) 738-3519.


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.


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.


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.


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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