VGCC’s Welding Technology Program at Franklin Earns Vanguard Cup

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College’s interim president, Dr. Gordon Burns, has honored a team of faculty members in the Welding Technology program at the Franklin Campus by awarding them the “Vanguard Cup” for excellence in education.

The department became the fourth recipients of the cup, an honor created by the President’s Office to recognize “exceptional team performance toward the college mission, vision and strategic plan.” The Vanguard Cup is awarded to a department that meets or exceeds the targets on improvement strategies designed to further department or instructional goals, Dr. Burns said in making the presentation on Thursday, Dec. 13, at a college event in the Civic Center.

Above: Members of the VGCC Welding Department faculty pose with the “Vanguard Cup,” awarded to the Welding program at Franklin Campus for educational excellence by Dr. Gordon Burns, interim president of the college. From left are Dr. Burns; Rusty Pace, program head/instructor for Welding Technology; Allen Tharrington, instructor for Welding at Franklin Campus; and Luke Gravel, instructor for Welding at Main Campus. (VGCC photo)

Rusty Pace, program head and instructor for Welding, and Allen Tharrington and Luke Gravel, instructors, were honored for the Franklin Campus achieving a student course success rate of 100 percent, the president noted.

“The Welding program at the Franklin Campus achieved this superior student course success rate by advancing student skill development through increased repetition and by working more closely with local employers,” said Dr. Burns. “The local employers provided student tours of their respective campuses, served as guest lecturers and hired program graduates.”

In addition to the cup, the department receives up to $10,000 for use on equipment, professional development, adjunct instructors, or other approved purposes for state funds, as well as a luncheon for the area.

Runners-up for the cup were announced as the Math Department faculty who increased the student success rate of Math 171 students by 8 percent by offering supplemental instruction and maintaining performance rates in Math 172; and the Accounting/Business Administration/Entrepreneurship faculty who increased retention rates by connecting with students during registration periods and over the summer

VGCC offers degree, diploma and certificate programs in Welding Technology. In addition to the classes at Franklin, classes are offered on the Main Campus in Vance County. For more information, contact Rusty Pace at (252) 738-3375 or [email protected]

VGCC Apprentice at Frigi-Temp Places Third in State Fair Contest

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Cyrus Jover of Henderson, the first participant in Vance-Granville Community College’s new apprenticeship partnership with Frigi-Temp of Youngsville, took third place in the North Carolina State Fair HVAC Apprenticeship Competition in October.

“I’m extremely proud of Cyrus and the way he represented the Frig-Temp team,” said Cory Thornton, chief operating officer of the commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) company.

Jover joined the apprenticeship program earlier this year. Already enrolled in the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Technology program at VGCC, he had worked in the HVAC field for almost four years before he became an apprentice, but only in residential installation.

Cyrus Jover of Henderson, a VGCC student who participates in the VGCC apprenticeship program through Frigi-Temp of Youngsville, placed third in the 14th Annual Apprentice HV/AC-R Contest at the N.C. State Fair in October. In the photo above, Jover is being tested on his brazing skill level and safety precautions during one section of the day-long competition. Event organizers gave instructions and then, as shown in the background of the photo, judged students on how well they soldered while also observing their steps to follow good safety measures. (Photo Credit: VGCC)

The 14th Annual Apprentice HV/AC-R (Heating, Ventilation/Air Conditioning – Refrigeration) Contest was open to the first 20 applicants, registered in a program recognized by the N.C. Department of Commerce, who have completed less than 8,000 hours of training. Eight apprentices participated and six were awarded prizes. Third place awarded a prize of $175 out of a total of $1,325 in prizes to the top finishers. The top three finishers received extra prizes with Jover winning a tool bag, hand tools, and a drill set in addition.

The contest was designed to promote interest among apprentices in the skilled construction trades, according to the NC State Fair organizers. “This contest dramatizes a ‘job training program’ through which ApprenticeshipNC has assisted voluntary efforts of industry to meet their needs for skilled workers,” apprenticeship director Kathryn Castelloes said. “These skilled craftworkers have contributed significantly to the economic growth of North Carolina.”

A program of the North Carolina Community College System, ApprenticeshipNC seeks to “ensure the state has an innovative, relevant, effective and efficient workforce development system that develops adaptable, work ready, skilled talent to meet the current and future needs of works and businesses to achieve and sustain economic prosperity,” NCCCS says on its website.

Jover’s entry into the competition came at the suggestion of NCCCS staff, Thornton said. “Cyrus was signed up for the event even before he knew about it,” Thornton added, noting that it was a great experience for Jover and the company.

“I was very nervous going in because I had never competed in a contest like this,” Jover said. “You do not know how skilled your competitors are because they are strangers. You have no idea what to expect from them or the contest. I was also nervous because I knew that Vance-Granville and Frigi-Temp were depending on me to represent them well.”

“Despite the pressure and nerves,” he added, “the competition was a fun learning experience because it shows you how you rank when up against your peers. It also shows you how much more there is to learn so that you can be the best.” Thornton added that the contest began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 3 p.m.

Cory Thornton, chief operating officer for Frigi-Temp in Youngsville, left, celebrates with Cyrus Jover, a student in the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Technology program at VGCC who is also an apprentice with Frig-Temp. Jover placed third in the 14th Annual Apprentice HV/AC-R Contest at the N.C. State Fair in October. (Photo Credit: VGCC)

“If I could hire five more team members just like him I would do so in an instant,” Thornton said. ”His drive to become a professional, his humility, his work ethic and the way that he chooses to work as a true team player is something I truly admire about him. I am humbled that I get to work at Frigi-Temp alongside Cyrus and many others just like him.”

Jover is originally from the Philippines, where he earned a college degree in Biology before coming to the United States seven years ago, at age 20. Here, he found that the HVAC field had numerous job openings. He enrolled at VGCC, first as a part-time and then a full-time student. Now, he is done with almost all of his classwork and spends most of his time working at Frigi-Temp. He sometimes works a full 40 hours per week at the company while continuing his studies.

Thornton said the apprenticeship program is going very well while “still in its infancy.” “We have high hopes for the future and look forward to hiring several more apprentices over the next year,” he said.

As for next year’s competition at the State Fair, Thornton says Frigi-Temp will be ready for another round. “We weren’t able to coach Cyrus prior to the event and, with this being the first time, none of us any idea what to expect,” he said. “He did an excellent job by placing in third and next year we are looking forward to him taking first place.”

Michael Whittemore, program head for Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration at VGCC, shared in Thornton’s excitement about Jover’s accomplishment. “Cyrus is exactly as Cory describes him. He is an excellent student and he makes Vance-Granville proud, not only for this contest but also for the professional manner in which he performs as an apprentice at Frigi-Temp,” he said.

Students interested in enrolling in the program can contact Whittemore at [email protected] or (252) 738-3214.

Employers who are interested in partnering with VGCC on apprenticeships are encouraged to contact Ken Wilson, project manager for VGCC’s TechHire grant program, at [email protected] or (252) 738-3259.

State Board of Community Colleges Approves Appointment of Dr. Desmarais

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

The State Board of Community Colleges has approved the appointment of Dr. Rachel Desmarais as president of Vance-Granville Community College.

She will begin her tenure as the seventh president in the college’s history on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, according to Danny W. Wright, chair of the VGCC Board of Trustees. The action of the State Board came at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the North Carolina Community College System offices in Raleigh.

Currently the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, Dr. Desmarais was selected for her new position by the VGCC trustees on Dec. 5. She was among nearly 90 applicants for the post.

The new president succeeds Dr. Stelfanie Williams who left in August to become the vice president for Durham affairs at Duke University. Dr. Gordon Burns, retired president of Wilkes Community College, is serving as interim president for VGCC until Dr. Desmarais takes office.

The State Board of Community Colleges has approved the appointment of Dr. Rachel Desmarais as president of Vance-Granville Community College. She will begin her tenure as the seventh president in the college’s history on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019.

2019 ‘Lunch Break to Educate’ Series to Begin With Social Media Marketing

-Information courtesy Sandra Wilkerson, Director of Admin and Events, Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce

It’s time for the 2019 Lunch Break to Educate Series. First in the series is “Social Media Simplified: A Complete Introduction to Social Media Marketing” to be held Wed., January 9, 2019, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center.

This program teaches how to set up and optimize social media sites so they improve your website’s target audience reach. The top social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube will be covered. The ability to converse with your audience and offer valuable content is essential in this emerging marketing approach.

Additional topics covered include your websites as “hub”; engagement over shouting; know what you hope to achieve before you begin; and how to deal with negative nellies.

Speaker(s): P. Kaufman

Co-Sponsor(s): Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce

Click here to sign up for this free session. Lunch will be provided. Limited to 18 participants, so register today!

VGCC Announces Four New Classes for Food Truck Entrepreneurs

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College’s Mobile Food Truck Entrepreneurship classes return to the college’s Main Campus in Vance County starting in January with four new seminars on food service.

Sponsored by VGCC’s Small Business Center, students can take all or as many of the classes they choose. Each of the free classes is scheduled in Building 7 on Main Campus on a Monday evening in the months of January through April.

Above: Ray Chow is the founder of Hibachi Xpress and Catering by Ray.

Ray Chow, founder of Hibachi Xpress and Catering by Ray, will again serve as the instructor for the series. A graduate of N.C. State University, Chow started Hibachi Xpress restaurant in Cary and expanded to three locations, as well as managing some of his family’s other restaurants in the Raleigh and Wilmington areas. He has worked in restaurants since he was seven years old.

Seven years ago, Chow expanded his restaurant and catering business with the addition of a food truck to participate in different festivals and large gatherings. The popularity of food trucks has grown, and, in 2014, Hibachi Xpress shifted focus towards catering and the food truck business, moving away from the brick and mortar stores.

Chow is also a co-founder of “foosye,” a startup tech company building innovative technology applications tailored to the food truck industry.

The first in the series — “Let’s Get Cooking:  Food Truck or Restaurant?” — will explore the differences in what it takes to start a food truck or a restaurant and continue operating one successfully. The Jan. 14 seminar is designed for those who want to realize their passion to be a small business owner in the food service industry.

The second seminar — “The 10 Hats of a Food Service Entrepreneur” — is being held on Feb. 11. Just because a person has a passion for cooking doesn’t mean he or she will be successful at owning a food truck or restaurant business, Chow said. This seminar will detail the many roles or “hats” entrepreneurs have to be able to juggle to succeed in business.

Above, the Hibachi Xpress food truck is owned by Ray Chow, who will be the instructor for the four VGCC Mobile Food Truck Entrepreneurship classes in January through April.

The March 11 workshop will be devoted to “Food Service Marketing: Your Customers Can’t Buy From You If They Can’t Find You.” Those exploring the food service industry will have an opportunity to learn various ways to market their food business to improve their chances of success.

On April 8, the topic of “Keeping Your Food Truck Business Running” will take a closer look at the need for flexibility and proper planning. “Imagine putting wheels on a restaurant you built,” said Chow. “There are things that will fall, slip, break down, move or not work when you add in the mobility of a food truck operation. Learn how things will end up on the floor when you arrive at your destination when not properly secured or planned.”

Participants in the program will also be required to sign up as clients of the VGCC Small Business Center, which is free of charge.

The deadline to register for each class is one week prior to the date of the class. For more information and to register, contact the VGCC Small Business Center at (252) 738-3240 or [email protected]

Dr. Rachel Desmarais Chosen as Next President of VGCC

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Dr. Rachel M. Desmarais has been chosen as the next president of Vance-Granville Community College. With the final approval of the appointment by the State Board of Community Colleges on Dec. 18, she becomes the seventh president in the 49-year history of the college.

The VGCC Board of Trustees selected Dr. Desmarais on Wednesday, Dec. 5, following presentations by three finalists in a series of public forums from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4.

“The Board of Trustees has concluded Dr. Desmarais possesses the key attributes of an outstanding president that were identified in our search process,” said Danny W. Wright, chair of the board. “We are confident that Dr. Desmarais will provide: the visionary leadership to help our college expand and to promote economic development in our four counties, a powerful commitment to student recruitment and retention, the dedication to improving the lives of the people in our service area, the attention to facility planning and sustainability, and the articulation of our mission and vision to the college’s employees and the communities we serve.”

Dr. Rachel M. Desmarais, chosen as seventh president of Vance-Granville Community College.

The selection comes after a nationwide search that produced 89 applicants. She will begin work early in 2019.

The executive vice president and chief operating officer of Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem since 2015, Dr. Desmarais has been with Forsyth Tech in a variety of roles since becoming a department chair in 2002. Once a student at Forsyth Tech, taking Information Technology and Programming courses in 1994-1995, Dr. Desmarais became an adjunct instructor at the community college from 1996 to 1999 while also working in the private sector. She became the vice president of information services at Forsyth Tech in 2008 and moved to vice president of planning and information services in 2010 before assuming her current position.

She earned her doctorate of philosophy in instructional design and technology from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., in 2015 after getting her masters of science in information technology management from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro in 2003. She earned a bachelor of music degree in voice performance from Mars Hill College in 1992.

She was also among fewer than 40 aspiring and emerging community college presidents nationwide who were chosen for the Aspen Institute Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence in 2017-2018.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve and lead Vance-Granville Community College as its seventh president,” said Dr. Desmarais after being given the news on Wednesday night. “VGCC is a special place with students, faculty, staff, and board members who care for and take great pride in the college and community. I look forward to building on the strong value and culture already present in the college to cultivate a new shared vision for VGCC and its communities. Together, we will truly be Vanguards!”

Born in Sumter, S.C., while her father was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, she moved to Alabama when her family returned home after the Vietnam War.

“I got to watch my dad march across the stage at Auburn University as an electrical engineer,” Dr. Demarais said. “My mother was a preschool teacher. I got exposure to education at a young age, and I saw the value of it.”

Her family found a new home in Orangeburg, S.C., for her father’s first job after college and then eventually Rock Hill, S.C., where she attended middle school and completed her secondary education.

Since her move to Mars Hill, N.C., at the age of 18 to attend college, she has remained in North Carolina, noting that her career has taken her from music education to an administrative assistant in manufacturing to information technology and ultimately to community college administration.

She still has a desire to teach and said she now blends that desire with her love of information and technology to help students find success in the classroom.

“I have a real passion for using data from our students to help them learn how to learn,” she said. “Students have jobs. They have their lives to lead while going to college. They have much to juggle. We have a responsibility to make sure that the education we offer them is as efficient and effective in its delivery as it can be.

“I’m really a strong believer in institutional effectiveness,” she added. “The data can be used as a tool to help our students succeed. We need always to use it as a positive tool. An educated society is a happier, more fulfilled society.”

Her work in the private sector includes a period from 1999 to 2002 when she worked with the Womble Carlyle Sandridge Rice law firm and later a subsidiary, FirmLogic, in Winston-Salem as a systems support manager and, later, project manager. She was assistant to the director of manufacturing and a systems analyst for Highland Industries in Kernersville in 1997-1999.

She also has been actively involved in community projects in the Winston-Salem area, including the United Way; Boy Scouts of America; Forsyth Futures, a non-profit community data research organization; WinstonNet Inc., a non-profit community technology initiative; the Center for Design Innovation; and the Board of Cooperative Ministries for the Southern Province of the Moravian Church.

Dr. Desmarais has an adult son, Ian, who is currently a biotechnology major at Forsyth Tech. Her younger son, Conall, who will be completing the eighth grade, is interested in attending an early college high school. Her husband, she said, plans to retain his job in the Winston-Salem area as he is able to do the majority of his work off-site.

The search process for the new president began in September when the Trustees selected the firm of Executive Leadership Associates (ELA) LLP of Emerald Isle to help the board create a profile of the ideal presidential candidate needed for VGCC, to guide the search process and to recruit and screen applicants. Applications and nominations were accepted beginning Oct. 8 with a deadline of Nov. 9.

Serving on the VGCC Trustees’ presidential search committee were Trustees Deborah Brown, chair; Herb Gregory, vice chair; N. Annette P. Myers, Abdul Sm Rasheed, Donald C. Seifert, Sr., and Sara C. Wester.

With the guidance of ELA, a consortium of former North Carolina community college presidents, the list of candidates was narrowed to five by the board’s search committee. On Nov. 19, at the regular bimonthly meeting of the board, the Trustees trimmed the list to three finalists who were invited to the college to meet with staff and faculty, county officials, chamber members and the public to participate in individual forums. Attendees were given the opportunity to provide input on each finalist via a form distributed at the forums or verbally to representatives of ELA in attendance.

The board met on Dec. 4 following the last of the interviews with candidates. A final decision on the selection was made at a continuation of that meeting, on Dec. 5, following the results of a vetting process conducted by the State Board of Community Colleges.

“After this carefully executed selection process, we believe Dr. Desmarais has the background and the experience to move us and our communities forward,” Trustee Wright said. “We do appreciate our two other finalists who showed such a strong interest in helping our college advance, and we owe much to the members of the public sector who also attended the forums and assisted us in this search process as well.”

The two other finalists were Dr. Quentin Johnson of Mooresville, vice president of Student Support Services at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, and Dr. Melanie Thornton of Albany, Ga., vice president of academic affairs at Columbus Technical College in Columbus, Ga.

The new president succeeds Dr. Stelfanie Williams who left in August to become the vice president for Durham affairs at Duke University. Dr. Gordon Burns, retired president of Wilkes Community College, is serving as interim president for VGCC until Dr. Desmarais takes office.

VGCC Franklin Campus Launches Vanguard Flex Evening & Weekend College

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College’s Franklin County Campus has launched a new initiative called Vanguard Flex to meet the needs of adult learners who need more options for class scheduling.

The evening and weekend college program begins with Spring Semester for which registration is now underway.

“Vanguard Flex offers flexible, hybrid schedules in the evenings and on weekends on our campus located at 8100 N.C. Highway 56 in Louisburg,” said Bobbie Jo May, dean of the campus. “We want to accommodate the busy schedules of our adult learners. We are offering flexible scheduling for placement testing, advising, the library resource center, and the open computer lab on our campus some evenings and one Saturday per month.”

Spring Semester classes start on all four VGCC campuses on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, with a registration deadline of Jan. 3. In addition to the traditional 16-week semester session, VGCC is offering a 12-week term, two 8-week terms and two 4-week terms for the Spring. The first of two 8-week sessions will begin on Jan. 7 and run through March 5. The second 8-week session starts March 5 and concludes May 6, with a registration deadline of Feb. 28. A 12-week mini-term begins Feb. 5 and runs through May 6, the registration deadline coming Jan. 31.

The four-week “Spring Forward” online mini-term begins Dec. 17 with a registration deadline of Dec. 13. A second four-week online mini-term, labeled “March Forward,” is scheduled to begin March 5 with registration ending March 1.

Vanguard Flex is offering five complete curriculum programs of study initially: Early Childhood Education, Certificate; Early Childhood Education, Diploma; Medical Office Administrative Assistant I, Certificate; Business Management, Certificate; and Basic Welding, Certificate. All courses taken in the certificate programs can be applied to diplomas and degrees offered through Vance-Granville, Dean May said.

In addition, a variety of classes is being offered in the following areas through the Vanguard Flex initiative at Franklin Campus:

College Transfer: English, Math, Biology, Introduction to Computers and Psychology courses can be used toward many degree and diploma programs offered through the college. Dean May is recommending that students meet with an academic coach or advisor prior to enrolling in the classes.

Career and Technical: Courses in Welding Technology, Paralegal Technology, Medical Office Administration, Business Management, Bioprocessing Technology and Early Childhood Education lead to certificates and diplomas that can be completed entirely through the evening and weekend format.

Continuing Education: VGCC’s Franklin Campus has a robust selection of courses through the Continuing Education division during the day, evenings and weekends, among them, Nursing Assistant, Medication Technician, Phlebotomist, Notary Public, Bioworks, Human Resource Specialist and Healthcare Administration.

Adult Basic Skills: For those in need of a High School Equivalency or Adult High School Diploma, the Franklin Campus offers flexible hybrid schedules with evening classes in the Adult Basic Skills program. Basic Skills classes for Spring will begin Jan. 8 and will be held each Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. Orientation is held each Friday at 10 a.m. Dean May encourages students to contact the instructor at 252-738-3618 with questions about the classes.

A complete list of the evening and weekend courses is available online at

Students who are interested in Vanguard Flex should contact the Franklin County Campus at (919) 496-1567 or write to Dean Bobbie Jo May at [email protected].

Vance-Granville Community Band to Present Free Winter Concert on Dec. 3

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

The Vance-Granville Community Band will present its 11th annual winter concert on Monday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in McGregor Hall at 201 Breckenridge Street in downtown Henderson. The concert is free and open to the public.

“The concert is a classic old-fashioned band concert,” said Brian D. Miller, director of the band. “Bands should always play music that is appealing and makes sense. We have had a great tradition of performing good, solid, traditional band music in the Vance-Granville Community Band. It was John Philip Sousa’s philosophy that music should always be attractive and have great audience appeal. There is no better model for band administration and performance than the one set forth by Sousa.”

The band’s repertoire for the December concert includes a march by Sousa, the seldom-heard “Keeping Step with the Union,” a march Sousa composed in 1921 and dedicated to Mrs. Warren G. Harding, wife of the 29th president of the United States. “Sousa wrote 136 great marches,” Miller said, “but we don’t get to hear the rare ones. It’s a lot of fun to present Sousa’s lesser-known marches.”

Above: Brian Miller conducts the Vance-Granville Community Band during its 2017 winter concert. (VGCC photo)

The band will also perform a rare 1914 march entitled “Radium King.” “This march came from a golden time period of the circus march and celebrated the wonder of radium as a newly-discovered element,” Miller said. Other pieces on the concert include a famous 1960s band composition entitled “Overture In Bb,” a transcription of music from the movie “The Greatest Showman.”

Christmas season music will also be featured on the concert as well, Miller added. Patrons will hear “All Is Well,” “Greensleeves,” and a Christmas march transcribed by band member Bob Salzmann.

“We are certainly fortunate to have Bob Salzmann with us in the band,” said Miller, “because not only is he an excellent musician, he is a fine arranger. It’s great having our own arranger create music for the band.”

The audience will hear two well-known medleys of Christmas favorites, including Leroy Anderson’s all-time classic “Christmas Festival,” referred to by Miller as “one of the greatest Christmas band pieces ever.”

The band has shown significant numerical and musical growth under the baton of veteran band director Miller, who established his identity in the area as the longtime director of the Louisburg High School Band, which grew into one of the state’s largest bands in one of the state’s smallest schools and whose Symphonic and Concert Bands became known in the regional area for performance of traditional band overtures and old-fashioned Sousa marches.

Miller said his philosophy is simple: “Play good, traditional music that is appealing to the audience.”

“We hope that everyone will come enjoy this great cultural experience in historic downtown Henderson,” Miller added. “We want everybody to hear the Vance-Granville Community Band.”

The Community Band, which is sponsored by the VGCC Division of Arts and Sciences, includes people of all ages, from all walks of life, and from throughout the region. No auditions are required. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Vance-Granville Community College Civic Center, on the Main Campus in Henderson, at Exit 209 on Interstate 85 (Poplar Creek Road).

For more information, contact Brian Miller at (919) 496-5877 or at [email protected] or Betsy Henderson at [email protected]

VGCC Faculty, Staff Raise $16,000 To Support Students

 -Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College’s annual Faculty & Staff Drive for the VGCC Endowment Fund raised $16,011 this fall from among employees on the college’s four campuses, according to an announcement by the co-chairs for the drive to the Trustees on Monday, Nov. 19, at the board’s regular bi-monthly meeting on the Main Campus.

The funds were raised to support the mission of the college and award scholarships to deserving students, said Eddie Ferguson, director of the Endowment Fund.

Heading up the drive this year were Michael Brodie, Campus Police sergeant; Antoinette Dickens, program head and instructor for the Paralegal Technology curriculum program; Willie Mae Foster-Hill, Main Campus receptionist; and Jeremy Lambert, assistant director of financial aid.

“Our campaign theme was ‘Rise Up!’” Ferguson told the Trustees. “It was based on the fact that every day our students rise up to come to school under a lot of hardships, whether it be academic pressure, family issues, transportation or such. We serve a very diverse community.”

VGCC’s Faculty & Staff Drive for the Endowment Fund was led by volunteers Michael Brodie, Campus Police sergeant; Antoinette Dickens, program head and instructor for Paralegal Technology; Willie Mae Foster-Hill, Main Campus receptionist; and Jeremy Lambert, assistant director of financial aid. Shown above celebrating the success of the drive at the Board of Trustees meeting are, from left, Brodie; Kay Currin, Endowment Fund specialist; Trustee Danny Wright, chair of the board; Dr. Gordon Burns, interim VGCC president; Foster-Hill; and Eddie Ferguson, director of the Endowment Fund. Dickens and Lambert were unavailable for the photo. (VGCC Photo)

The faculty and staff, he said, “rose up” with this drive to provide the funds for the students. “We are really proud to raise this money from our employees, most of which will go directly to students in the form of scholarships. Some of the money is directed to projects such as our student emergency fund to help meet other immediate needs,” Ferguson said.

Statewide Budget Priorities

In his report to the trustees, Interim VGCC President Dr. Gordon Burns outlined budget priorities identified by the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) for 2019 through 2021 and urged the trustees to share those priorities with the returning and newly elected members of the N.C. House of Representatives and the N.C. Senate who represent the four counties served by Vance-Granville Community College.

Under the Workforce Development Legislative Agenda, NCCCS is requesting funding to help 700,000 students annually achieve a better life through high-school equivalency, career and technical education, short-term workforce training, and high quality, affordable college transfer programs, Dr. Burns said. The state’s community colleges are essential in closing the skills gap for North Carolina employers, the NCCCS notes, and are a driving force in the economy of the state.

The system office reports that the state’s 58 community colleges continue to suffer from approximately $53 million in budget cuts made during the 2008 recession that have not been restored, which undercuts efforts to prepare the state’s workforce. Dr. Burns noted, too, that community colleges are having difficulty recruiting and retaining faculty and staff because the average annual faculty salary, at $47,362, is 41st in the nation.

Among legislative priorities for 2019-2021, NCCCS is seeking recurring funds of $11.5 million to fully fund short-term workforce training; $15 million to upgrade information technology systems across the state; $2.6 million to fund workforce-focused multi-campuses; and $2.8 million to expand a program that places career coaches in high schools to assist students with determining career goals and identifying community college programs that align with the students’ goals.

Dr. Burns said the legislative priorities also include increasing funding to bring faculty closer to the national annual salary average of $60,422, enacting statutory changes to eliminate barriers to enrollment caused by the state’s relatively new Residency Determination System, and stabilizing budgets for colleges faced with enrollment declines because of Hurricane Florence.

Capital Projects

In his report to the board on capital projects, Trustee Donald Seifert, chair of the Building Committee, said renovations have been completed to the seminar rooms in the Civic Center on Main Campus.

H.G. Reynolds Company began renovation of a 3,200-square-foot portion of Building 10 on Main Campus to create a Practical Simulation Lab for the Basic Law Enforcement Training, Fire/Rescue and Emergency Medical Services programs. The work, which started in October, is scheduled to be completed in January. In addition to the area being renovated, parking lot space is being expanded, Seifert said.

College officials are also working with the county managers in Vance and Granville counties to fund the replacement of a storage building on the Main Campus that was lost in a fire this past summer.

Other Action

In other action:

  • The trustees voted to approve the closure of two curriculum certificate programs and a diploma program no longer in demand from students. The closure of the Nurse Aide Certificate, Nurse Aide Diploma and the School Age Care Certificate programs, effective this fall, will go to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the North Carolina Community College System for final approvals. The closures came at the request of the Curriculum Committee, chaired by Trustee Barbara Cates Harris.
  • Trustee Xavier Wortham, chair of the Investment Committee, reported the VGCC Endowment Fund Corporation received a favorable report from May & Place PA, certified public accountants, for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. He also gave the bimonthly update on the college’s investments.
  • Trustee Sara Wester, chair of the Personnel Committee, reported on new employees, retirements and resignations, and she presented an amended employee calendar for 2018-2019.
  • Student Government Association President Angel De Leon, the student Trustee, reported to the trustees on a leadership workshop recently attended by students, participation in recent Fall Festivals on the college’s campuses, and a relief drive that is being held to help victims of Hurricane Florence.

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held on Monday, Jan. 28.

Public Invited to Forums With VGCC Presidential Search Finalists

-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College invites the public to attend three separate forums scheduled for Nov. 30, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 to meet and provide input on the finalists for the presidency of the college.

The three public forums will be held each day from 12:15 to 1 p.m. in the Civic Center.

Dr. Quentin J. Johnson of Mooresville, currently vice president of Student Support Services at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, will be at the college on Friday, Nov. 30.

Dr. Melanie W. Thornton of Albany, Ga., the vice president of academic affairs at Columbus Technical College in Columbus, Ga., will attend the forum on Monday, Dec. 3.

Dr. Rachel M. Desmarais of Clemmons, who is currently executive vice president and chief operating officer at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, will be present on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Invitations to the forums also have been sent to county officials, school officials, area chambers, and VGCC faculty and staff, among other groups.

The three finalists were selected from among nearly 90 applicants on Monday, Nov. 19, at the regular bimonthly meeting of the college’s Board of Trustees on Main Campus. Following North Carolina Community College System protocol, the trustees have presented the finalists to the State Board of Community Colleges for vetting.

The VGCC Board of Trustees plans to have the new president in place early in 2019. The new leader will become the seventh president in the 49-year history of the college, replacing Dr. Stelfanie Williams who resigned in August to take a position at Duke University.