Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of articles on Surry Community College and its impact on the community.
DOBSON — President of Surry Community College Dr. David Shockley showed off the original 1964 seal of Surry Community College, once saved from salvage and now refinished, as college staff continued on Monday to feverishly install furniture for the SCC 50th Anniversary Business After Hours celebration to be held on Thursday.
The seal stands painted in SCC colors of bold blue and gold and reads “To Each His Farthest Star.” Dedicated to the college by first president John Krepick in 1964, the Dean of Evening Studies and catalogue archivist Bob Hemmings refinished the seal. Shockley said it will be presented as a gift and remounted as part of the historical celebration, in addition to historical pictures taken at the seal’s dedication ceremony.
Shockley emphasized the seal stands as a testament to the individual’s capacity to take what may appear a distant dream and turn it into present reality at the SCC campus. It acts as a reminder of the school’s philosophy so closely integrated into the success of students’ and administrators’ lives. Shockley said that philosophy is to “embrace” the past, learn from it and use it as a tool of success in the present and the future. That encompasses all areas of development, the president said.
Shockley is a reality of the seal’s proclamation. The Appalachian State University and Caldwell College graduate said he knew early he wanted to be president at Surry Community College, through a series of events, the dream became a reality.
All of SCC’s living presidents will be in attendance on the campus Thursday at the Shelton-Badgett Center for Viticulture and Enology.
“I think that is going to be tremendous,” said Shockley. Former living presidents are Frank Templeton, Swanson Richards, Jim Reeves, Frank Sales, and Deborah Friedman.
Attending is a “who’s who” guest list that includes county commissioners, business executives, school administrators, chamber representatives and chamber members from Yadkin and Surry counties. Chambers of commerce involved are Yadkin Valley Chamber, Yadkin County, Greater Mount Airy and the Pilot Mountain Area Business Association.
A wine reception will feature wines from the school’s vineyard, Surry Cellars, made by the students.
Looking back on the college’s history, Shockley said he would make an addition with a word more inclusive of female representation on the seal motto. He pointed out that of the five former living SCC college presidents one of them is a female, President Deborah Friedman.
Shockley, a former United States Marine, along with staff, continues to pilot the dreams of previous administration and students through an ability he said is uniquely found in the natural DNA of community colleges — to grow and thrive in eras of change. Especially through periods of economic uncertainty, said Shockley.
In fact, SCC that once began with one building was recently ranked for the second time as in the top 150 U.S. Community Colleges by the Aspen Institute, Shockley said. The two-time ranking is earned based on performance, improvement and student retention. He attributed the success to SCC’s ability to make the most of their resources, provide class size that insures personal attention and adapt to the technological marketplace. That strategy employs improvising adapting and overcoming in the community college system and is akin to “turning around a speedboat instead of the Titanic,” said Shockley, smiling at the advantage.
As the college moves forward, SCC Foundation Executive Director Marion Venable displayed plans to add 58 acres in the development of a new vineyard. Due to growth, the old one will be phased out.
“It is really exciting,” said Venable.
In other changes to come, Shockley said renovation of the Reeves Center is designed with student services in mind. Military veterans will have their own hosting area. They are a big part of the college’s growth and for the most part “intolerant of nonsense” after their experience in the military. Shockley said adult learners as a whole must feel like “education is relevant.”
Shockley said the college mission is about “where we have been and where we are going.” He said the former presidents have been and remain ambassadors of that mission.
Former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Dr. Gary Tilley started employment with the college in 1979. He taught as part-time faculty in the Business Department when it opened in 1980. He said he plans to attend Thursday and celebrate with colleagues.
“It is a fitting tribute to the hard work of the faculty and administrations through the years, and last, but certainly not least, are the students that have made the community better because of their experience,” said Tilley.
Tilley said another key part of the growth has been instrumental at the hands of former SCC Secretary Susan Johnson, who started with President Krepick. “She probably knows as much as anybody” about what Tilley defined as an “incredible story and journey” for those involved with SCC over the years.
Tilley said there was a good foundation when he got there. Today, however, he marveled at how the campus has grown with more services, programs and buildings, he said.
He said when he first started working, there was only one campus building. He recalled teaching the first computerized accounting course and using floppy hard drives.
Before computerized accounting came on the SCC scene, college accounting class was comprised of teaching from old-fashioned “manual workbooks” that required “labor intensive methods,” said Tilley.
Tilley said SCC’s advancement since 1984 in technology has been “incredible” and “so dramatic.”
He recalled the first official three off-site campuses — Mount Airy, Elkin and Yadkin County — with satisfaction. “Any time you can bring education close to where students live, the better off you are. They need options, access to online, the whole effort is to adapt to whatever the student needs.”
Tilley said SCC’s growth to the locations is part of the trend across the community college systems and said SCC tried to be part of the movement to provide more “accessibility.”
“The mission we have had is to make available to anyone regardless of their circumstances a way to get education,” said Tilley.
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.