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VGCC Flexes Some Extra Space

By MIA MITCHELL, Daily Dispatch Writer

Vance-Granville Community College dedicated its newest and largest building Thursday during a brief ceremony on the main campus on Poplar Creek Road.

State Rep. Jim Crawford, commissioners from Vance, Granville, Warren and Franklin counties, and Vance-Granville trustees were among the people who turned out to see the Technology, Occupational Extension & Basic Skills Building.

The ceremony was led by Vance-Granville’s president, Robert Miller, and the chairman of the 2002-03 Building Committee, J. David Brooks.

“This is one of the nicest buildings you’ll find on any community college campus,” Brooks told the crowd, which toured the building floor by floor after the ceremony.

The three-story, 52,000-square-foot building is the first to be constructed with funds from the $17.1 million Higher Education Facilities Bond authorized by North Carolina voters in 2000. Approximately 80 percent of voters from the four-county area served by the college approved the bond referendum.

The building is the largest on Vance-Granville’s four campuses. It will house all of the college’s technology-based instruction programs: information systems, networking, Internet technology, information technology, information highway, occupational extension computer classes, and open computer labs, which are open to all enrolled students.

Also housed in the building are programs for certified nursing assistants, emergency medical technicians, fire training and law enforcement training.

The basic skills training program occupies the second floor and provides literacy classrooms, labs and testing facilities to assist those who wish to earn a General Education Equivalency Diploma or adult high school diploma.

The building, which opened two weeks ago, couldn’t have come at a better time, said Marsha Nelson, the dean of curriculum. Enrollment has increased 70 percent since 1995. Vance-Granville now has 4,317 full-time curriculum students in the four counties.

“We just simply ran out of space,” said Nelson, who is expecting record-breaking numbers for spring admissions.

By removing computer labs and offices from other buildings to the new facility, she has much-needed classroom space. Nelson said that at times she had to schedule classes in lecture rooms, conference rooms or anywhere she could find empty space. Now there is room to breath.

“It’s exciting, and it will continue to be exciting,” said Nelson, smiling.

The building’s wide hallways, spacious classrooms and 500 new computers have improved instruction immensely.

Cornelia Garrison, the coordinator of the Adult Learning Center, said the building has made teaching a lot more convenient.

“Before, we had to combine classes in the same room; now each class has its own area,” she said.

Miller said he couldn’t be more pleased with the changes that are taking place. “We’re all very excited. For the first time, we have a home for many of our continuing education programs. We’ve always had to find an open space for them. Now they have a home.”

According to Miller, the building is just the first phase of improvements at Vance-Granville. Other buildings are scheduled to be renovated. There are plans to expand the bookstore, increase parking and add 10,000 square feet to the Student Services Building.

The additional space will allow Miller to carry out more of his vision for the college. With the help of the bond money, he will be able to create two programs that he couldn’t accommodate before the renovation.

Miller said his goal is to serve the needs of a responsive community, which was becoming difficult with the lack of space.

“We’re full at every campus,” he said. “This bond allows us to consolidate and add new programs that the community wants.”

He also expressed appreciation to the county commissioners for their support in the midst of harsh economic conditions.

Those who attend the campuses in Warren, Franklin and Granville need not worry. Renovations are planned for those campuses, which are also in need of space.

A 15,000-square-foot addition for the Warren County campus breaks ground this week. It is expected to be complete in 14 months.

Renovations for the Franklin campus are scheduled to begin in late summer or early fall.

The Granville campus will receive the last phase of renovations.


The writer can be reached at mmitchell@hendersondispatch.com .