The North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges has approved the appointment of Dr. Gordon Burns as the interim president of Vance-Granville Community College.
The former leader of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro was the longest serving president in the history of the western North Carolina college, retiring in 2014 after 18 years at WCC and 46 years in education.
The approval came today (Friday, July 20) at the regular meeting of the State Board, held this month at Pitt Community College in Winterville, following the VGCC Board of Trustees’ selection of Dr. Burns as its choice for an interim.
Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the sixth president of VGCC, announced plans in May to take the position of Vice President for Durham Affairs at Duke University, effective Aug. 13. Dr. Burns will work alongside Dr. Williams for his first two weeks at Vance-Granville and will officially become the interim president on Aug. 11.
“We are excited to get someone of the caliber of Dr. Burns to help lead Vance-Granville during this time of transition,” said Danny W. Wright, chair of the VGCC Board of Trustees. “At Wilkes Community College, Dr. Burns demonstrated an ability to assemble and lead a strong team of administrators, faculty and staff that took their college to new heights during his tenure.
“We feel very fortunate that, after just a few years of retirement, he still has a burning desire for community colleges and the excellent work we do to educate students of all ages.”
Vance-Granville will be his fourth community college home in North Carolina. Prior to his time at WCC as president, Dr. Burns served as executive vice president at Lenoir Community College in Kinston, and as vice president for instruction and dean of continuing education at Wilson Community College in Wilson. After completing high school in Easton, Pa., Dr. Burns earned his Bachelor of Science degree at Eastern Kentucky in Richmond, Ky., and his Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Missouri in Columbia. His Ph.D. major was Industrial Education with support areas in Educational Administration and Industrial Management.
Dr. Burns described his management style for the VGCC Trustees as “participatory.” “I like to engage and I like to involve the staff, faculty and students in the life of the college, the decisions that are made, the planning that is done and the execution of those plans,” he said. “I can honestly say that much of what was accomplished in my career was not accomplished by me. It was accomplished by the people that I supervised and that I worked with as team members.”
Operations will be the top priority during the transition, he said. “The ultimate compliment at the end of the period would be that we didn’t miss a beat, that the college continued on its journey. I would not be here to change things so that things would be done in the Burns way or in the Wilkes Community College way. They need to be done in the Vance-Granville way with the Vance-Granville people.”
“Dr. Williams has continued the journey of creating a great work environment and a great learning environment here and a supportive one for all, the students, the faculty and the staff and has worked well with Trustees in the governance of the institution,” he added.
At Wilkes Community College, Dr. Burns is credited with leading the college through a period of significant growth and successes in enrollment, donations to the college’s Endowment, construction and renovation projects, technology, academic offerings, planning, and school, university, business and industry partnerships.
At the VGCC Board of Trustees’ July meeting, a search committee of six Trustees was appointed to find the permanent president. Deborah F. Brown was appointed chair of the search committee, and Herb Gregory as named vice chair. Rounding out the committee are N. Annette P. Myers, Abdul Sm Rasheed, Donald C. Seifert, Sr., and Sara C. Wester. The committee was selected by Trustees Chair Wright.
In the photo above, Dr. Gordon Burns, retired president of Wilkes Community College, has been named the interim president of Vance-Granville Community College. He will lead the college while the Board of Trustees searches for Vance-Granville’s seventh president. (VGCC Photo)