Growing Futures: A Brief History of the Institution
Wayne Community College came to life in 1958 as the Goldsboro Industrial Education Center. Several IECs were established in North Carolina to provide vocational training for industry workers, and Goldsboro’s center was among the first. Under the governance of the Goldsboro City Board of Education, the IEC used classrooms in Goldsboro High School. Kenneth Marshall directed the IEC until 1961 when Hal K. Plonk took over.
A campus was established on the U.S. 70 Bypass in 1960. By the fall of 1962, the IEC had eight faculty and 47 students. In August 1962, Dr. H. B. Monroe became the institution’s first President and served until 1966. He was succeeded by Dr. Clyde A. Erwin, Jr. in July 1966. Dr. Erwin served for 20 years.
Goldsboro IEC changed its name to Wayne Technical Institute in 1964. Enrollment increased steadily and by fall of 1966, there were 550 students on campus and 1,500 extension students.
In November 1967, a community vote approved the necessary financial support for WTI to become Wayne Community College. One year later, curriculum enrollment was 700.
Wayne Community College was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1970 and has been regularly reaffirmed by the agency’s Commission on Colleges, most recently in 2016.
The student population’s rapid growth overwhelmed the U.S. 70 Bypass facilities. In January 1974, the Board of Trustees commissioned a Master Plan for campus relocation to Wayne Memorial Drive. The first building on the new campus, constructed in 1978, housed auto-diesel technology, welding, watchmaking, drafting and electronics programs.
A local bond referendum in 1986 provided $9.9 million in construction funds, which were matched by state funds in the following years. WCC’s campus relocation efforts progressed through Dr. G. Herman Porter’s tenure (1986-1992) and continued when Dr. Edward H. Wilson, Jr. took the helm in July 1992.
By the fall of 1992, five buildings were completed. A 1993 statewide bond referendum provided the $6.3 million necessary to add two more buildings on campus and an aviation building at the Goldsboro-Wayne Municipal Airport. All were in use by the winter of 1996.
Enrollment and program offerings continued to grow, and so did the facilities. In the fall of 2000, voters overwhelmingly approved a statewide Higher Education Bond that provided WCC nearly $13 million for construction, renovation and repair. The last building constructed with that bond money is home to the business and information technology programs. That state-of-the-art facility opened in spring 2007.
Also in 2007, the Hope Monument joined the Plonk Clock and the Spillway fountain as campus landmarks. The Hope Monument and the inscribed bricks that surround it honor those who have left their mark on the college and encourage those making their way now. The 16-foot “street clock,” a memorial to Madeline W. Plonk and Hal K. Plonk, was a gift from the residents of Goldsboro and the Plonk family in 2005. Spillway, created by sculptor Jim Gallucci, was given by Goldsboro Milling Company in honor of William H. Shepard, Jr. in 1989.
Dr. Wilson passed the torch to Dr. Kay H. Albertson in July 2007. During her nine years in the President’s office, the college led the state in the number of National Career Readiness Certifications earned, an accomplishment that aided in the naming of Wayne County as the first county in the state to receive the ACT “Certified Work Ready Community” designation.
In 2015, the college also acquired a former manufacturing facility that is being transformed into the WAYNE WORKS Advanced Manufacturing Center in a cooperative project with the Wayne County Development Alliance and the County of Wayne. The project will allow more than 21,000 square feet of space on the college’s campus to be re-purposed.
In March 2016, voters approved the “North Carolina Connect NC Public Improvement Bond” that will result in $5,800,000 in funds for construction, repairs and renovations for the college.
Today enrollment stands at approximately 11,500, of which more than 4,400 are students taking college credit classes. WCC provides more than 70 credit programs including courses that will transfer to four-year universities. Many courses and programs are offered on-line to provide better access for today’s students.
One innovative program now housed at WCC is the State Employees Credit Union Partnership Teach South Central Consortium that allows students to complete an East Carolina University teaching degree without going to Greenville, NC. Another is the Wayne Early/Middle College High School, whose students earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree in five years.
For nearly 60 years, Wayne Community College has responded to the needs of the community and kept pace with changes in technology and methodology. It has produced an impressive list of student achievements and successful graduates. With each semester, WCC renews its dedication to continuing the tradition of “growing futures.”