Vance-Granville Community College’s commencement exercises on May 15 awarded a record 574 degrees and diplomas, according to an announcement Monday night from VGCC President Dr. Stelfanie Williams.
Dr. Williams made the report to the VGCC Board of Trustees at the board’s bi-monthly meeting at the main campus on May 18. She noted that the registrar is still processing graduates as well as grade changes and expects additional completions.
Marking perhaps the largest graduation attendance in college history, too, 18.5 percent more graduates marched across the stage in 2015 than last year, resulting in the largest audience of family and friends for the event on the campus by the college’s gazebo and lake.
In her report to the board, Dr. Williams also cited record fundraising from the latest golf tournament. The golf tournament, held May 5, raised $100,318 to help fund scholarships for deserving students and to support the mission of the college, Dr. Williams noted. With Oxford-based Union Bank as a presenting sponsor, the tournament set a new record as the highest-grossing golf tournament in VGCC history, nearly doubling the previous record of $51,000, set last year.
Vance-Granville’s administration is exploring opportunities for the development of programs and services.
In the Executive Committee report, led by board chair Deborah Brown, Dr. Williams outlined potential projects in the areas of student success, faculty development and college facilities.
“The Executive Committee requested that I look at some development projects for which we might utilize donor funds to help us move forward,” said Dr. Williams. “These are the broad, fluid projects that we propose as development projects that could benefit from funds donated to support the college.”
Among the student success projects to be explored are:
• A “bridge program” to help incoming students be better prepared for college-level courses: VGCC would like to be able to work “in the summer to accelerate these students’ preparation so that they can hopefully begin in the fall in better standing,” Dr. Williams said. Donor funds might provide scholarships to students who have significant financial need but need the benefits of the bridge program.
• Moving high school equivalency students to curriculum programs: VGCC has one of the largest high school equivalency programs in North Carolina, Dr. Williams noted. The college wants to provide incentives and support to students as they move from the equivalency program into a one-year or two-year curriculum program. Donor funds might be used for tuition, books, transportation and child care, for example.
• “Van-guarantee”: VGCC is exploring the use of donor funds to provide a guarantee of scholarships to students graduating from any of the high schools in the four-county area with a demonstrated unmet financial need. Funds might be used for tuition, books, childcare and transportation, Dr. Williams said.
• “Advising in 3D”: As the state looks at the possibility of placing college advisors in high schools, VGCC is interested in expanding its advising program to place college counselors in secondary schools across the four-county area. Academic and career coaches would provide valuable assistance to high school students with the help of donor funding, she said.
Under the category of faculty development, Dr. Williams said that the college is exploring the possibility of endowed faculty positions, visiting professorships, and faculty mini-grant scholarships.
As for college facilities, donor funds might be utilized to expand needed programs in the health sciences with possible funding for an Allied Health building. A facility is needed for workforce development training such as forklift operation and classes associated with advanced manufacturing. Funding for donors could also be used to assist with student life needs such as upgrades to student centers and a new bus or van for student activities and athletics.
“These are projects as we currently see them, but as the needs of the college change, these projects may very well change,” she said.
The Board of Trustees said farewell to Theresa Chiplis — again — presenting her with a plaque recognizing her service as the Student Trustee on the Board for 2014-2015.
Chiplis, who graduated in May 2014 with degrees in Accounting and Business Administration, returned to VGCC in the fall of 2014 to complete a degree in Global Logistics Technology. She graduated again earlier this month.
Upon her return to VGCC last fall, she successfully sought the position of Student Government Association president for the second year in a row. The SGA president serves as Student Trustee on the VGCC Board each year.
“We just appreciate your service,” said Dr. Williams. “We know you are going on to a great future, and we will miss having you around.”
Chiplis voiced her appreciation to the board. “What an honor it has been to serve with everyone on the board for these past two years. I have learned so much about the school and about our communities,” Chiplis said. She said she aspires to get involved in the local communities and hopes to be on a local board one day.
Board of Trustees Chair Deborah Brown presented a plaque recognizing her service as the SGA President and Student Trustee.
Chiplis, of Norlina, has served as a student ambassador for three years, including as lead ambassador. She has also been president of VGCC’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and president of VGCC’s chapter of the Phi Beta Lambda business student organization in 2012-2013. She is a 2014 graduate of the North Carolina Community College Student Leadership Development Program.
Reporting as the chair for the Building Committee, Trustee Donald Seifert said roof renovation projects for Buildings 2, 3 and 4 on Main Campus have been awarded.
Steve Graham, vice president of finance and operations for VGCC, said work is slated to begin within the next two weeks. The renovations are slated to be complete by Aug. 15.
The three roofs account for about half of the multi-project budget of $1.2 million. Additional renovations will be done to roofs and masonry on other buildings on the campus between Henderson and Oxford.
“We are thankful to the counties, Vance and Granville both, that agreed to finance these building improvements,” said Dr. Williams.
Dr. Williams announced that a proposed bond is under consideration that would help community colleges.
“The governor has proposed a state bond and if it passes it will include $200 million for the community colleges,” she said. “We might get a significant amount of money that will allow us to do renovations and repairs.”
The bond funds would not be available for new construction.
“Steve and I and his staff are looking at the campus master plan and other projects in the queue for which we might utilize those funds,” said Dr. Williams.
Seifert offered praise for the condition of the college’s Main Campus.
“We have done, in my opinion, a wonderful job of keeping our facilities up to date, because these buildings have some age on them but they still look very good,” Seifert said.
Final working drawings and construction documents on the Building 10 renovation project have been reviewed by the State Construction Office, Seifert said. The architect will be providing an updated project schedule after he has reviewed the Construction Office’s findings. Formerly a retail and service center, Building 10, located across Poplar Creek Road from the main campus, will house classrooms for Emergency Medical Services, Fire/Rescue Programs, Basic Law Enforcement Training, Law Enforcement In-Service training and other workforce programs.
The college’s Continuing Education Fire and Rescue Program is working with Walter Gardner, the mayor and fire chief of Warrenton, to schedule a controlled burn exercise at a college-owned structure on the Warren County Campus that will provide a hands-on training experience for local area firefighters, Graham said.
Student, Patron Fees
The trustees approved student, patron, child day care and facility rental fees for the 2015-2016 academic year following a report by Abdul Rasheed, chair of the board’s Budget Committee.
Those fees include new services being provided to students through Library Services. The college’s library will offer copy services in a variety of formats in addition to laminating, faxing, binding and mounting.
VGCC received a favorable education program audit report from the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS), according to an announcement from Brown, reporting for the Curriculum Committee.
In a statement from Jennifer Haygood, executive vice president/chief financial officer for NCCCS, no audit exceptions or areas of concern were identified from a sample of records pulled from the Institution Class Reports, programs, policies and procedures for Spring Semester 2013 through Spring Semester 2014.
Pending approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and NCCCS, the VGCC board voted Monday night to terminate three curriculum certificate programs in Heat Pump Technology, Refrigeration and Sustainable Air Conditioning & Heating under the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Technology program. The three certificate opportunities, which will officially terminate in the Fall of 2016, have no active students currently enrolled. Future students interested in the three certificate areas will be able to earn a Basic Air Conditioning & Heating certificate, according to Dr. Angela Ballentine, VGCC vice president of academic and student affairs.
In other action:
• Personnel Committee Chair Sara Wester reported on new employees, retirements and resignations. Among the new employees are two of eight academic and career coaches working out of the college’s Student Learning and Success Center. Those coaches represent a new initiative by the college to work with new students to help them align their aspirations with their career paths and follow the steps to enroll successfully. The coaches will work with the students through their first year to help guarantee their academic success before handing them off to a faculty advisor who will help them through the sophomore year of students to graduation, according to Dr. Ballentine.
• Dr. Williams announced recent meetings with state legislators representing the four-county area served by the college. She reported that she has been advocating for community college budget priorities. The legislators are Sen. Angela Bryant, Sen. Chad Barefoot, Rep. Nathan Baskerville, Rep. Bobbie Richardson and Rep. Larry Yarborough.
• After taking a dip in January’s reports, the college’s investments were up $100,000 as of April, according to a report from Trustee L. Opie Frazier, Jr. Investments now total $2,085,022. These investment funds are separate from other contributions presented to VGCC and to the separate VGCC Endowment Fund. Trustees have voiced concern about poor performance of investments in recent years, noting they were pleased to see the most recent improvements.
• Dr. Williams also announced the following upcoming events for trustees: a tour of the college’s four campuses for recently appointed trustees on July 27, a board retreat on Aug. 24, and the North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees Fall Leadership Seminar in Wilmington on Sept. 9-11.
The next meeting of the VGCC Board of Trustees will be held on Monday, July 20, at the Main Campus.
Above: Deborah Brown, left, chair of the Vance-Granville Community College Board of Trustees, and Dr. Stelfanie Williams, right, president of VGCC, present a plaque to Theresa Chiplis, president of the Student Government Association and the student trustee on the trustees board for 2014-2015, at the board’s meeting on May 18. Chiplis, who graduated with her third degree this month, served for two years as student trustee. (VGCC photo)