Wayne Community College will officially install its sixth president on Thursday afternoon during ceremonies in Moffatt Auditorium.

Dr. Thomas Walker Jr. came on board Sept. 1, 2016.

Prior to coming to Wayne County, he had been campus president of the Grand Island campus of Central Community College in Nebraska, where he had been since 2014. Prior to that, he was vice-president for student and enrollment services for all locations of the college, which serves 25 counties. He had also worked in higher education in Missouri, Tennessee and his home state of North Carolina.

He is originally from Lumberton and had also served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Walker earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His graduate degrees include a master of public administration and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Memphis.

The installation ceremony will start at 4 p.m., with a program that includes Veda McNair, board of trustees chairperson bestowing the chain of office upon Walker.

The chain of office holds special significance as it was designed and created by Paul Compton, chairman of the college's computer-integrated machining department. It features a medallion bearing the seal of the college and links engraved with the names and tenures of the institution's previous directors and presidents. Compton will participate in the ceremony, carrying the mace that he also made.

The line of directors and presidents who have served during the nearly 60 years of WCC history include Kenneth Marshall, director of the Goldsboro Industrial Education Center, 1957-1961; Hal K. Plonk, director of GIEC, 1961-1962; Dr. H.B. Monroe, president of GIEC and Wayne Technical Institute, 1962-1966; Dr. Clyde A. Erwin Jr., president of WTI and Wayne Community College, 1966-1986; Dr. G. Herman Porter, WCC president, 1986-1992; Dr. Edward H. Wilson Jr., WCC president, 1992-2007; Dr. Kay H. Albertson, WCC president, 2007-2016; and Dr. Gene Smith, WCC interim president, August 2016.