06/17/07 — Wayne Community College celebrates 50th anniversary

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Wayne Community College celebrates 50th anniversary

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 17, 2007 2:00 AM

From its days known as "Bypass U" or "Trailer City" to becoming a leading educational institution, Wayne Community College leaders past and present lauded its rich 50-year history Friday during rededication ceremonies.

Portraits of the college's four presidents were also unveiled, and the state's community college system president, Martin Lancaster, gave the celebratory address.

Dr. Ed Wilson, fourth president of Wayne Community, retiring at the end of the month, regaled progress made over the years. When first hired, he worked on the original campus on N.C. 70.

The low-lying property was prone to flooding and Wilson recalled occasions of "faculty getting in rowboats and rowing around the parking lot."

Lancaster also commented on the deterioration of those first buildings over the years. Only in recent months has the original administrative building been leveled.

"That first building, I was very pleased to see as I drove by today, is down," he said.

Citing its accomplishments over the years, Lancaster said college has seen "a half-century of making things better for the citizens of Wayne County."

The Pikeville native credited three people who had college connections with his rise to president of the state community college system, a role he departs after 11 years through retirement next May -- his wife, Alice, who had a long tenure as an instructor at Wayne Community; Dr. Herman Porter, the third president who was later appointed to the state board of community colleges and, Lancaster said, "largely the reason that I was chosen"; and Wilson, a friend since the two men were teenagers, who "gave me credibility ... and incredibly good advice throughout my tenure."

The Moffatt Auditorium stage was a familiar place for Lancaster. It was where he was sworn into his latest role of service. He said he was "particularly blessed" to return and reflect.

Wayne Community College, he said, "has always been known for jobs -- training people for good-paying jobs ... We're also known for our size, our scope and our access."

One in six adults in North Carolina take at least one course every year at a community college, Lancaster noted. With 58 community colleges, the state has the most comprehensive network in the country, he said.

"There's a campus within easy driving (of everyone in the state)," he said, adding that with distance learning courses, access expands into every citizens' living room "or wherever they have a computer."

For the future, Lancaster said he only sees more opportunities for students, expressing his pride in the role community colleges continue to play in fostering creative and global economy.

"I applaud what you have done thus far in building on what Ed and these other presidents have done. ... I'm convinced that Wayne Community will continue to be a leader in the community," he said.

Board of Trustees Chairman Tommy Cox said the future of the college is bright with promise.

"This college is the center of its community," he said, calling it a cultural center, economic development tool, recreational center, home to fundraising activities, even a nature haven to redwing blackbirds and killdeer.

Ceremonies concluded with the unveiling of the college's leaders since opening its doors in 1957 as Goldsboro Industrial Education Center, offering classes at Goldsboro High School.

Portraits, painted by local artist Zeno Spence, included H.B. Monroe, president from 1962 until 1966; Dr. Clyde A. Erwin, Jr., 1966-1986. and Dr. G. Herman Porter, 1986-1992, both of whom attended the ceremony; and Wilson, 1992 to present.

The college's fifth president, Dr. Kay Albertson, who will assume her new role July 1, shared a brief overview of the college's history, compiled by Charlotte Brow of the Humanities and Social Science Department. A copy of the history is also available on the college's Web site, www.waynecc.edu.