SUBMITTED By ROSE GARRETT
SOUTHWESTERN COMM. COLLEGE
Cecil Groves, president of Southwestern Community College since 1997, informed the board of trustees and college faculty and staff Tuesday evening, Jan. 26, that he will retire at the end of this academic year – June 30.
“As for everything and everyone, there is a season. My season has now come,” Groves said.
Groves thanked the SCC family for its “support, encouragement and, most of all, friendship. As a professional ‘last stop,’ you helped me save the best for last.”
Groves attributed SCC’s success, not to himself, but to the family of people-trustees, faculty and staff-he worked with. “We worked as a team focused on helping students achieve their career and personal goals,” Groves said.
Before becoming the fourth president of SCC, Groves was chancellor of the Texas State Technical College System from 1989-1996. He was president of Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colo., from 1985-1989, president of Austin Community College in Austin, Texas, from 1977-1983 and executive vice president/provost for Delgado College in New Orleans, La., from 1970-1977.
As Chairman of the SCC Board of Trustees for the past 10 years, Conrad Burrell said, “I’ve enjoyed working with Dr. Groves on college business and as a friend. He has had the full cooperation of the trustees, the faculty and staff and the community, which is very rare for any president. We’ll miss his leadership – and humor- not only on our board, but in the community. Dr. Groves has done so much for our area and he will be missed. He has been a great leader and friend.”
Burrell said Groves has greatly increased the viability and reputation of the college “which is now established as an institution of the highest quality and recognized for teaching excellence.”
The role of facilitator was one of Groves’ great strengths, noted Burrell, who cited BalsamWest FiberNet, a world-class telecommunications highway, serving the six western most North Carolina counties and adjacent counties in Tennessee and Georgia as an example. “It was Dr. Groves who envisioned and brought together a partnership with Drake Enterprises, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Southwestern.
“Along with the success of BalsamWest, what he has done with the public schools, county and state agencies and business and industry has positively impacted every facet of mountain life for the foreseeable future,” said Burrell. One example, Burrell noted, was the college being ranked 4th in the nation by Washington Monthly for its quality of teaching and the success of its students.
In addressing the faculty and staff Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 27, Groves said, “Collectively, we have accomplished many critical benchmarks important to the future of our institution, our communities and our students.”
Some of those accomplishments include national and statewide recognition for excellence, the expansion of campus facilities throughout the region, new instruction services and resources for students, numerous new programs and services for and with the public schools, innovative and first-of-a-kind new degree programs, recognized leadership in instructional technology and online learning, and many other achievements to numerous to list.
“The momentum of the college will not be slowed down during the transition,” Groves said of his departure. “While my last day is June 30, I expect a new president will be in place by Aug. 1. Our board of trustees is fully committed and most capable of selecting the very best person possible to lead the college to continued statewide and national prominence.”