Former WCC chief Erwin dies at age 81
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 11, 2010 1:46 PM
Former Wayne Community College President Dr. Clyde Erwin died Wednesday at Kitty Askins Hospice Center. He was 81.
President of WCC from 1966 until 1986, he was executive secretary of the N.C. State School Board Association and had served as a legislative consultant for the National Education Association in Washington, D.C., and the N.C. Education Association in Raleigh.
He is credited with being very instrumental in the movement from technical institutions to the community college concept that exists today.
Dr. Jan Crawford of Waynesville worked with Erwin for 17 years, his last position being executive vice president.
"Clyde was a real people person and he saw the college as an opportunity for people to be able to afford an education and to get good jobs and improve Wayne County and the surrounding community in a way that had incredible impact," he said. "I think he brought the ability to develop educational and training programs that set Wayne Community College apart from many of the other institutions and also saw the need for the academic part so that people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, could get that first two years of college before transferring and going on to complete baccalaureate degrees, graduate degrees and so forth."
There are thousands of success stories coming out of WCC, Crawford said, and Erwin was a big part of the growth.
"Clyde Erwin was a good leader," added Dr. Herman Porter of Goldsboro, who succeeded Erwin as WCC president and served from 1986 to 1992. "He just had a great personality and got along with people and was a people person."
Erwin also hired two individuals who would go on to become presidents at the college, Dr. Ed Wilson, who worked with him from 1973-81, and Dr. Kay Albertson, its current administrator, hired in 1980.
"Probably the greatest legacy as far as WCC was concerned was the faculty. The programs that were offered at the institution were good, and of course the people that he surrounded himself with were good folks," Wilson said.
"Every time I saw him he was so happy that the system had come as far as it had and I have to say he was really one of my best cheerleaders," Mrs. Albertson said, adding that he was also a real Southern gentleman.
"Even in the hospital, they said he still always said, 'please' and 'thank you,'" she said.