DOBSON — The fact campus tour buses left later than anticipated Thursday night is a statement to the part Surry Community College has played in the lives of those who taught or studied there. Many attending the school’s 50th anniversary and business after hours mixer chose to visit in what quickly took on the atmosphere of a family reunion.
Campus President Dr. David Shockley gave the opening speech and welcomed participants who filled the reception hall of the Shelton-Badgett Viticulture and Enology Center. A special anniversary cake cutting ceremony followed the speech and featured former presidents Dr. Deborah Friedman, Dr. Frank Sells, Dr. Jim Reeves and Dr. Swanson Richards.
“We welcome you all and are so happy to have you here to celebrate our 50th,” Shockley said. “We have been busy all day to prepare for the energy and fellowship we have here tonight.” He spoke briefly about tours that were available to show the remodeling of the student services building and joked about the building’s bright “modern” colors which were later compared to colors popular in the 1970s.
“Everything we have done was designed to make our students’ lives better,” Shockley said as he also outlined the redesign of the college’s academic support center and told about dedicating the school’s industrial training center last year. He noted it was designed to be changed quickly to adapt to new industrial demands. He also talked about the school’s 56-acre tract of land which will serve as the site of the school’s new vineyard and other projects and eventually road frontage on U.S. 601.
“There will be a day when the Dobson main campus will have its main entrance on 601,” Shockley said. “While we honor the past, this college has a bright future before us. We embrace what our forefathers and mothers left us. Thank you so much for coming here tonight and supporting us.”
He praised the cooperation of community, public school systems and elected officials in Surry and Yadkin counties.
Shockley said the college had received the Aspen Award. He was referring to the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program that recently named SCC as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million dollars in prize funds.
The Aspen Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.
Surry Community College is one of four colleges from North Carolina on the list including Alamance Community College, Graham; Cape Fear Community College, Wilmington; and Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte. This is Surry’s second appearance on Aspen’s top community college list; SCC was one of the top 120 contenders for the Aspen Prize in 2011, and the only North Carolina community college to be listed in both 2011 and 2015.
SCC Foundation Executive Director Marion Venable earlier characterized the event as a celebration in partnership with all of the chambers of commerce in the college’s service area. The college typically participates in a business after hours meeting monthly and the opportunity seemed a natural venue. The event was planned in partnership with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce, Yadkin Valley Chamber, and the Pilot Mountain Area Business Association.
Venable said those invited included former college presidents, business and industry partners, foundation board members, Surry and Yadkin county commissioners, and representatives of Northern Hospital of Surry County and Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital, the Surry Economic Development Partnership, school superintendents and school boards from Surry County, Mount Airy, Yadkin County and Elkin, representatives from national and state levels, boards of commissioners, city managers and boards from Dobson, Elkin, Pilot Mountain, Jonesville, Boonville, East Bend and Yadkinville.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on Twitter @MtAiryNewsDave.