See Sunday’s Independent for a feature highlighting retirees of Sampson Community College
Students, faculty, staff and community members gathered Tuesday afternoon to kick off the golden anniversary celebration of a local educational institute.
Chartered in 1967, Sampson Community College will be celebrating a milestone of 50 years throughout 2017 with different activities planned each month to commemorate the college’s history and contributions to the community.
“As we celebrate 50 years of serving Sampson County during 2017, our focus will be on remembering and recognizing the people and events that helped to form and build Sampson Community College and the student-centered culture that exists today,” Sampson Community College president Dr. Paul Hutchins said.
As part of the year-long celebration, in addition to the planned events at the college, the Sampson Independent will run a feature on the last Sunday of the month, highlighting some or those who have worked to make SCC as successful as it has become throughout the last five decades.
During Tuesday’s celebration, a panel of retirees shared their fondest memories of the college, dating back to the opening day in 1966. Chuck Robinson shared stories of a time when employees could walk down the hall and get a haircut, take a trip to the garage and get some work done on their car, get advice on electrical issues or simply seek medical help from the nursing department.
Robinson said he and then dean of students Jefferson Strickland would hop in their cars, traveling across the county with the basketball team, just so students could play.
“On the way home one night, I thought to myself, ‘Man I have a great job,’” Robinson shared. “And I looked forward to coming to work the next day.”
The college was established as an extension of Wayne Technical Institute in 1966 and housed at the old East Indian School north of Clinton. Just one year later, on Sept. 7, 1967, Sampson Technical Institute was decreed by the General Assembly as an independent unit with Dr. James Earl Vann as the first president. The current location was constructed following the passing of a bond referendum in 1972.
“There have been many remarkable milestones and changes during the first 50 years and we plan to celebrate those each month throughout 2017,” Hutchins said.
The official move to the N.C. 24 campus didn’t happen until 1976, when the faculty and staff of the college moved, holding an open house in April of the same year. At this time, the North Building, a trailer for storage and the metal vocational building were the only structures on the site. One year later, in 1977, the East Building was completed to house vocational classes.
In 1979, the name was changed to Sampson Technical College, but would again change in 1986 when Dr. Clifton Paderick, the institute’s third president, established Sampson Community College. The official name change wasn’t made until late 1987. Over the last 20 years, the college has continued to change, with the addition of the Kitchen Building, Warren Student Center, Technology and Activities centers and the Occupational Building. More change is planned for the future, after the ConnectNC bond passed last year, allowing roughly $4.7 million to come into the college for renovations and new construction.
“We look to the future with anticipation,” Hutchins explained. “The future includes needed improvements to our facilities with the ConnectNC bond funds and community support which will allow us to expand and improve program offerings at the college. Over the next 25 years, SCC will endeavor to explore and begin new programs that match with the learning needs of our community.”
The college has changed during its five decades of existence. When the college first opened, there was one classroom, one office and one instructional offering in an adult high school program. That changed when the business administration curriculum started with Lois Denny, who was employed on a part-time basis. Three full-time vocational program soon followed, including bricklaying, plumbing and electrical work.
Retiree Shelby Kidd was one of those who was around in the beginning, having started at SCC as a student, then transitioning into the work study program.
“I have many fond memories,” Kidd said. “To me, the most special of them all is when I have seen students who are struggling and then I see them on their graduation day.”
The college established Sampson Early College High School in 2005 and partnered with UNC-Wilmington, Fayetteville State University, East Carolina University, N.C. State University and UNC-Greensboro to offer transfer and dual enrollment programs in early childhood, criminal justice, elementary education, animal science and various computer and business related fields in 2007.
The college continues to strive to provide the best education possible for its students and the community, offering 972 classes each year through the continuing education program and serving 5,405 individuals in that program.
As one of the 58 institutions within the community college system, Hutchins said the mission of SCC is to provide accessible and affordable education, workforce training, and lifelong enrichment.
When Sampson Community started educating the community in 1966, there were 50 students. Today, that number has grown with nearly 1,700 students currently enrolled in a program at the college.
“I appreciate the dedication and each of you working the long hours,” Michael Chestnutt, SCC Board of Directors president, said. “Each of you is a treasure and you get to make a difference in a lot of lives.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.