The fifth president in the history of Wayne Community College, and its first female in the role, returned to campus Tuesday for a ceremony unveiling her portrait.

Dr. Kay Albertson served in the role for nine years, from 2007 to 2016.

She would've been fine without the pomp and circumstance, she said.

"I told them, 'Just hang the thing; I don't want a ceremony,'" she said, before adding that she was appreciative of the occasion and all who showed up -- including two of her predecessors, Dr. Herman Porter and Dr. Ed Wilson, as well as past and present staff and community members.

A smile broke out across her face as the large canvas was revealed on the stage of Moffatt Auditorium.

"The beauty of portraits is you never have a wrinkle," she said with a laugh. "And the makeup was applied perfectly. You can never take that away from me."

The portrait was actually taken during Albertson's last years in the presidency by Wade Hallman, who has since retired from WCC. It was enhanced by Brown's Photography in Mount Olive.

The official painting will be among portraits of the college's other past presidents and administrators. Those had previously been hanging in the Erwin Library but are being moved to the administrative suite to provide a wider opportunity for viewing and recognition.

David Jackson, chairman of the board of trustees, said one of the board's responsibilities is to hire its top executive and Albertson was deserving of a place in the college's history.

Dr. Thomas Walker Jr., Albertson's successor, also sung her praises, saying he had researched the institution and knew he wanted to be part of the reputable college.

Saying he was proud to stand on the shoulders of Albertson, he took the metaphor a step further, admitting she had "deceptively narrow shoulders" as he listed off a few of her accomplishments -- including reaccreditation, the establishment of WORKS and Wayne Business and Industry Center, establishing such programs as the associate in engineering degree and a variety of short-session youth summer camps.

"The last two graduations have been the largest in the college's history," he added. "That's due to your leadership, Dr. Albertson.

"This is just some of the legacy she left me to build upon."

Albertson reminisced about some of her 34-year tenure in the North Carolina community college system that began and ended at WCC.

"My roots are right here in Wayne Community College," she said.

She recalled when she and her husband, Woody, moved to Goldsboro in 1980, she was a young Air Force wife with a small toddler at home. She was fresh from having worked at Old Dominion University and wanted a job.

She found one at the former WCC campus on U.S. 70, hired by Wilson and going on to start a teacher associate program.

After three years, her husband was reassigned with the military. They moved back to Goldsboro in 1986 and she worked in a variety of educational capacities, including the Goldsboro city school system and for several years at Lenoir Community College.

In August 2000, she was hired back at WCC by Wilson, who was then president. She rose from division head to associate vice president for academic affairs, vice president of academic affairs, vice president of academic affairs and student services and then president in 2007.

The occasion of having her portrait included for posterity within the walls of WCC made for a special day, she said.

"I can tell you that Kay Albertson back in 1980 would never have dreamed that one day she, too, would be -- forgive me -- 'hanging out' with these accomplished gentlemen as part of the history of this fine institution," she said.