02/01/08 — WCC installs Albertson

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WCC installs Albertson

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 1, 2008 1:46 PM

Amidst the pomp and circumstance of installing the fifth president of Wayne Community College before a capacity crowd Thursday afternoon, it was only fitting that something would go awry.

First the college's charter abruptly fell from its stand during remarks by Jimmie Ford, who represented the state Board of Community Colleges. Then the clasp on the medallion was not secure when placed around the neck of Dr. Kay Hall Albertson and had to be adjusted.

But neither glitch diminished the moment, with Albertson laughing them off before taking her rightful place in the college's history.

Representatives of the local and state community college system filled Moffatt Auditorium, along with legislators, business and industry people, trustees, alumni, students and staff.

It was a "happy occasion" to be a part of, said Martin Lancaster, president of the state's community college system, calling Dr. Albertson "a highly qualified person to be the president of Wayne Community College."

Her being the first female president at WCC is also significant.

"Seven of the nine new (community college) presidents that were named in the last calendar year were women," Lancaster noted. "When I came to this position, there were two women presidents. There are now 16."

Known for her "great energy, her great intellect, her great leadership skills," Albertson already "enjoyed a reputation as a leader in higher education," Lancaster said.

Although Lancaster will not be observing from his current position -- he retires from the state office in three months -- he told Dr. Albertson he still plans to "eagerly watch your progress and your great leadership as it unfolds in the years ahead."

Ford, from Goldsboro, said he was pleased to have been part of the selection process.

"It was such an easy decision," he said. "This college is my home and I want only the best. I was confident then and I'm confident now that Kay Albertson was the best choice to lead this wonderful institution."

Tommy Cox, chairman of the current board of trustees at WCC, officially installed Albertson.

"I will challenge her with a tremendous burden and I do so with confidence that her shoulders can bear this weight ... and prove that we have chosen well," he said.

Albertson referred to the occasion as "the pinnacle of my professional life" and said she was "overwhelmed with gratitude."

"Although I stand at this podium alone, I do it with an invisible force behind me," she said, crediting visionaries more than 50 years ago who sought to "provide an education beyond high school and beyond our community" as well as a community college system that is second to none, and the board of trustees that selected her to be at its helm.

"I am a college president today because of the faith of a dedicated board of trustees who have the community at heart," she said. "They have entrusted me to lead Wayne Community College and it is with their support, with them beside me, that I preside over Wayne Community."

She also recognized the part staff and students played in her new role.

"At a moment like this, I can't forget that just a few short months ago I sat in the faculty and staff's chairs. I haven't forgotten and I'm sure if I slip, I'm sure they'll remind me," she said, laughing.

"The learners, the students who lay their hearts and their minds daily in our hands, they're the reason for being and I daily acknowledge that I serve them first," she said.

Finally, she paid tribute to the family and friends who have long supported her and made the path smoother.

"No journey worth taking is worth taking alone," she said, before pledging to not only be grateful for what has been put before her, "but that an equal legacy will be left for those who come next, so that one day someone else will say, 'I'm grateful.'"

Paying homage to the couple's parents "who helped them to become what they are today," Cox announced that Albertson's husband, Woody, has established an endowment at the college. The Hall Albertson Endowment Scholarship will benefit students beginning next fall.