Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of Vance-Granville Community College, has been named President of the Year for 2018 by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges. She is the first leader in VGCC history to receive the honor.
The President of the Year Award, sponsored by Wells Fargo, was established by the State Board in 2001. This award encourages, identifies, and rewards outstanding leadership and commitment to the community college mission among the presidents of the 58 institutions of the North Carolina Community College System.
"My fellow trustees and I are delighted that the State Board of Community Colleges has recognized Dr. Williams for her visionary leadership,” said Danny Wright, chair of the VGCC Board of Trustees. “Our entire region has been blessed to have Dr. Williams lead Vance-Granville Community College to new heights of excellence by embracing innovation and fostering strong partnerships. She serves our institution, our community and the state of North Carolina with warmth, humility and a passion for student success. This award is a well-deserved honor for Dr. Williams and reflects positively on the entire Vance-Granville team.”
College leaders nominated Williams as part of a competitive selection process in which an eight-page narrative is submitted and candidates are interviewed by an awards committee. The awards process emphasizes accomplishments that presidents have led in the past three years at their institutions – demonstrating broad community partnerships, improving services through technology, workforce education, economic development, advocacy at the local and state levels, long-range planning, innovation in program development and supporting professional development for college employees, among other criteria.
Williams became the sixth president of VGCC in 2012. Since then, she has focused the college on a “Vanguard Vision” strategic plan that addresses educational excellence, continuous improvement, employee and student engagement in college life, and institutional stewardship. Under her leadership, the college has added seven curriculum degree programs, including Mechatronics Engineering Technology, which provides training for advanced manufacturing careers. That program has been supported by some of the largest grants in the college’s history — part of the $40 million in grant funding (including a record-setting, in-kind donation from Siemens PLM Software) secured since 2013. Williams also helped initiate the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training Alliance (AMSTA) with the Career & Technical Education high school programs from the four public school systems in the college’s service area.
Her tenure has seen the second-largest private donor gift in VGCC history, as well as six consecutive highest-yielding annual golf tournaments for scholarships. With a focus on student success, the institution has improved completion rates, graduating the largest classes ever in 2015 and 2016. The most recent graduating class (2017) featured the largest number of associate’s degrees awarded in the history of the college.
She collaborated with North Carolina Central University to establish the “Eagle Voyage” partnership that now allows students with associate degrees to complete one of three bachelor’s degree programs without having to leave the VGCC campus. Meanwhile, the college has also partnered with North Carolina A&T State University through a program called “Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses” (RIBN), in which students simultaneously enroll at VGCC and the university to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
In addition, Williams introduced a private donor-funded college promise program called the “VanGuarantee” in an effort to make college more accessible for students with the greatest financial need. The scholarship program has garnered national attention and was highlighted by the White House in 2016.
Williams has championed Vance-Granville’s embrace of technology to provide greater academic offerings and support to students. The “Vanguard Online Learning through Technology” (VOLT) initiative has made six degree programs available completely online.
Prior to leading VGCC, Williams served as faculty and in several administrative capacities at other North Carolina community colleges. She also currently serves as adjunct faculty for the North Carolina State University College of Education.
Williams earned baccalaureate degrees in public policy and Spanish at Duke University, a master’s degree in project management from Western Carolina University, and her doctorate in adult and higher education from N.C. State University.
Williams has served on a number of boards and is the current secretary of the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents. In 2014, she was awarded the I.E. Ready Distinguished Leadership Award by North Carolina State University. In late 2017, Williams was appointed to a pair of statewide panels that are focused on education issues: the “My Future NC” Commission and the Governor’s Commission on Access to Sound, Basic Education.