08/13/07 — College's program will have busy year

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College's program will have busy year

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 13, 2007 1:46 PM

The Arts and Humanities program at Wayne Community College is already having its busiest year, says one of its proponents, and school isn't even back in session.

Jack Kannan is director of the Foundation at the college, which oversees the program begun seven years ago.

Annually, an array of events is planned for the college and community, from lectures and plays to trips and galas that have included a music festival and tribute to former Goldsboro High School drama teacher Clifton Briton.

Most of the proceeds go to fund student scholarships.

But beyond that, arts and humanities are carving out their own niche among the other cultural outlets in the county.

"We have always done plays and are going to do another one this year," Kannan said. "We have been doing Civil War trips and now have a Colonial Virginia trip, and this year we have added a literary trip that's got 18 going. We only have two openings left.

"That's another sign that we're being looked at -- as we develop these programs, how quickly they fill up. It used to be folks would sign up at the last minute. Now they're filling up as soon as they're announced."

Along the way, Kannan admits he harbored a fear that the program might become stagnant.

"We have to continually raise the bar by adding other factors to our Foundation," he said. "Getting people aware of the students' needs for scholarships, especially since the tuition has gone up this year -- from $294 a semester in 2000 to now, when it will be $700 a semester.

"It means that even though we're raising and getting more money for scholarships, I'm not able to give as many scholarships due to the increased cost."

Developing unique offerings and becoming somewhat of a cultural center for the community is a challenge, but one Kannan rises to meet.

"It brings us a diversified group of people on our campus that see us from a different perspective (and) people are telling us that they're looking for us for cultural enrichment and they like the fact that we're doing it," he said. "I tell them that we're a community college and we serve the community."

Kannan attributes a lot of the arts program's success to its director, Bill Brettman.

"He has been involved in the community and in his former career as a minister developed a following, and has done lectures for us," he said. "We're very fortunate to keep him continuing to come and teach at the college."

The gala events have also been very successful in helping establish the Foundation, bringing Goldsboro natives like Johnny Grant, Anne Jeffreys and Bill Stone back to the area to provide a glimpse into their successful careers, Kannan said.

"The thing that has impressed me the most is that they're renewing old friendships and making more of an effort to keep in contact," he said. "I find that they also like to keep in touch with us. As one has said, 'It's always nice to be asked to come home.'"

Continuing to develop the arts and humanities program is part of the college's mission, Kannan said -- providing cultural outreach to the surrounding community.

"We're not trying to be an Arts Council, a Center Stage, a StageStruck," he said. "We're trying to enrich and move forward, to be seamless in our partnership with them."