Ellis Island imagery was everywhere when Virginia’s Community Colleges and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education surprised Dr. George B. Vaughan with a Leadership Fund in his honor on Friday Feb. 20.
“Let us think for a moment of the community college as a port of entry – the Ellis Island – for many of the ‘new immigrants’ to higher education,” Vaughan wrote in his 2003 essay, The Community College and the American Dream.
Surrounded by family and by colleagues from throughout his career, Vaughan’s 40-year legacy to community college education was regaled Friday and his words quoted and remembered.
Vaughan served as one of the earliest presidents, from 1971-1977 at Mountain Empire, then from 1977-1988 at Piedmont. Vaughan also authored and edited one of the only history books about the creation of the Virginia Community College System – Pursuing the American Dream – published in 1987.
He left PVCC in 1988 to found a community college leadership doctoral program at George Mason, and by 1992 he was teaching future community college presidents and leaders through the graduate programs at North Carolina State University until his retirement in 2006.
Dr. Sharon Morrissey, vice chancellor for academic services and research, is one of many who studied under Vaughan in North Carolina. “Perhaps your most powerful piece of writing is your essay on “The Community College and the American Dream,” she said. “You asked us to consider what America would be like if the community college did not exist. This is a powerful essay. I share it when I do leadership development seminars… I have the framed essay hanging above my desk where I can see it every day as a reminder.”
Besides friends and former colleagues from both Mountain Empire and Piedmont Virginia community colleges, they were also joined by former UVA President John Casteen, who said that his “neighbor across town,” PVCC, has been able to “achieve the maturity of its mission because of the work George Vaughan did.”
Together, family, friends and colleagues have established the George B. Vaughan Leadership Fund, which will support leadership development at Virginia’s 23 community colleges in recognition of Vaughan’s achievements. More than $80,000 has been raised.
Pictured left, a gathering of presidents to honor a president. From left, Frank Friedman, current president of PVCC; John Cavan, retired president of SVCC; Robert Templin, retired president of NVCC; Vaughan; Jim Perkins, retired president of BRCC; John Casteen, retired president of UVA, and Frank Turnage, retired president of Germanna, all worked with Vaughan.
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