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HCC's 40th anniversary celebration with presidents, from left, Griffin, Newbern, and Taylor with Board Chair Edwards

Past Halifax Community College (HCC) presidents, Dr. Phillip Taylor and Dr. Elton L. Newbern, Jr., current president, Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr., Board of Trustees Chair, Dr. Stanley Edwards, and Director of Distance Learning and HCC alumna Beth Gray-Robertson were all on hand as the college celebrated its 40th anniversary, Sept. 7, in The Centre. Griffin made a proclamation of the day, which will continue to be celebrated annually as Founders Day.

Taylor, who was president from 1968-1988, talked about the early years and the concepts of the community college and the open-door policy. “I was here for the birthing of this institution…We've come a long ways in 40 years,” he said. Taylor explained that personnel worked at the Colonial Manor Motel site, HCC's first campus, for eight years and moved to the present location in 1976. He referred to the new location as “Heaven” and added, “Many hands have contributed to this institution.”

Gray-Robertson said that originally she did not want to attend “the motel,” referring to the first campus. “I was just as dumb as a post,” she added, but she was determined to go to college. Although she thought she would never pass college algebra, she did make it, and felt that the preparation was what she needed to advance her education. “If it had not been for that motel on 301, I wouldn't have made it,” Gray-Robertson added. “All these instructors brought things to my life that enhanced and enriched my life.”

The president of HCC from 1988-1998, Newbern talked about staff, building projects and enrollment, which doubled during his tenure. “The college has touched lives and it has touched my life,” he said. Newbern also talked about the advances in and accessibility to technology on campus. “It amazes me,” he added. “I enjoyed my time here and I pass the torch.”

“We owe all of you a debt of gratitude for the wonderful legacy of service to our region and state that you have left for us to follow,” said Griffin. “We realize that any success that we are having today is due to the hard work and efforts that all of you have made to pave the way for our students, faculty, staff, community, and administration today.” Griffin said that HCC would continue to meet the task of enriching the curriculum, workforce development, occupational education, and lifelong learning.

He also highlighted the recent successes of HCC's superior rating from the state system and the achievement of 11 of 12 Critical Success Factors, as well as community, educational and business partnerships. Griffin emphasized the success of the Continuing Education Department, the signing of an Early College High School planning grant with area school superintendents, and the development of long range and facilities master plans.

Edwards, whose mother received her high school equivalency from a community college as an older adult, said that his interest in the community college concept began in early 1972. He likened community colleges to lighthouses welcoming and guiding people to safe harbors. He added that HCC stands for that same mission. Edwards, who encouraged community support of HCC, said, “This is where you come and get a start.”