Martin first to head early CCCC
William A. Martin served as the first president of the Lee County Industrial Education Center, the ... (more)
Avron Upchurch went to work for the Lee County Industrial Education Center in February 1962 as coo ... (more)
Hubert Garner was hired by Lee County Industrial Education Center in 1964 to teach the Agriculture ... (more)
Elbert Price, now deceased, was hired in July 1964 as an agriculture teacher, and became the insti ... (more)
Shepherd Rice, now deceased, was coordinator of Diversified Occupations at Sanford Central High Sc ... (more)
The first building of the Lee County Industrial Education Center was erected in 1961 and opened fo ... (more)
The first building of the Lee County Industrial Education Center opened for classes in 1962. The b ... (more)
Automotive engine repair was one of the first programs taught at the Lee County Industrial Educati ... (more)
SANFORD - It was summer 1961. The Lee County Board of Education had hired William Martin to serve as director of the Lee County Industrial Education Center, a fledgling institution without a permanent building or classes. (His title would later be changed to president.)
Encouraged by the State Board of Education, the local board members, along with the county commissioners, were eager to establish a vocational education center to provide job-skill training for the adults in the county. Approval had been received from the state in April 1958 for the center, but funding challenges delayed offering classes until August 1961.
The school board knew the kind of person they wanted to lead the center: someone with a vocational background and knowledge of hands-on training, as well as someone with vision, focus and leadership skills to make the LCIEC a successful reality.
They hired the right man, according to Avron Upchurch and Hubert Garner, two of LCIEC's first three deans who served under Martin. Both continued to serve the institution, which became Central Carolina Community College, into the 1990s.
"Starting new things was his forte," Upchurch said of Martin. "He was strong in facility planning and construction, an area he loved. He also brought in new programs funded through the federal Manpower Development Training Act to train the under- or unemployed. We worked with the Employment Security Commission - the only ones doing it at that time. That's how Bill Martin got the school started."
Garner added that Martin had credentials no one else had, with both industrial and business experience.
"That was his long suit," Garner said. "He kept us moving in the right direction."
Martin was a World War II Navy veteran who graduated from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Apprentice School. After the war, he earned a bachelor's degree in industrial education and a Master of Education from North Carolina State University.
In the challenge of establishing LCIEC, he had strong support from then-Lee County Schools Superintendent J.J. Lentz, the school board, county commissioners, and area businesses. Starting in 1963, the institution had its own board of trustees.
Lee County's was among the first 18 industrial education centers in the state, Upchurch said. President Martin headed the new institution from July 1961 through August 1969, putting his leadership impress on it, focusing on bringing quality, in-demand vocational training to the public while also expanding opportunities for advanced education.
Upchurch and Garner remember those early days with fondness. Upchurch arrived in February 1962 as coordinator of the Agricultural Technology program. He went on to become LCIEC assistant director, director of Occupational Education, and dean of Instruction. He retired in 1994 as executive vice president and chief academic officer.
Garner was hired in March 1964 to teach the Agriculture Technology program. In October 1965, at Martin's request, he became director of Student Services. Garner went on to serve as dean of Student Development Services from 1971 until his retirement in 1991.
Elbert Price, now deceased, was the third dean. He was hired in July 1964 as an agriculture teacher, became the institution's business manager, and then dean of Administrative Services, serving until his retirement in 1990.
The LCIEC's first employee was Shepherd Rice, now deceased. He was coordinator of diversified occupations at Sanford Central High School when he became involved in working to establish the LCIEC. He was hired to serve as counselor coordinator starting July 1, 1961, the same date Martin began his duties. Rice went on to become the institution's director of vocational education.
Under Martin's administration, LCIEC expanded into Chatham and Harnett counties with the support of education, community, business, and government leaders. Adult extension classes began in Chatham in 1964 and in Harnett in 1965.
With dedicated administrators, staff and faculty, the institution's enrollment grew under Martin from 59 curriculum students and 3,105 extension (continuing education) students in 1962 to 358 curriculum and 4,501 extension in 1969.
Among the programs started under his presidency were agriculture, automotive mechanics, machinist, industrial maintenance, tool making, drafting, business administration, electronics, air conditioning/heating/refrigeration, welding, practical nursing, telephony, electric lineman, and fire service training, most of which the college still offers.
Garner was a pharmaceutical salesman for Merck Chemical before coming to LCIEC. On his last trip before starting at the college, a veterinarian in South Carolina said that the best thing the LCIEC could do for veterinarians would be to train people to work for them.
"When I came on board at LCIEC, I laid that out as a possible program," Garner recalled. "Bill Martin said, go for it! That's how we got our animal hospital technician program in 1965, the first one in the state. That has become the college's very successful veterinary medical technology program."
Adult basic education and literacy classes were important offerings from the launch of LCIE and still are today at CCCC as the college continues its mission of meeting its communities educational needs in Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties.
"Bill Martin's tenure was the heyday of federal programs aimed at literacy," Upchurch said. "We got on the bandwagon."
"And rode it hard," Garner added.
The school changed its name in 1965 from Lee County Industrial Education Center to Central Carolina Technical Institute, indicative of its maturation as an educational institution. As a technical institute, it offered associate in applied science degrees, bringing a new level of educational opportunity to residents of the area.
As classes increased, so also did the need for facilities to house them. The Lee County Board of Commissioners and Board of Education authorized the construction of a building to house classes, offices and a library. Construction started in August 1961, shortly after Martin became director. He oversaw the expansion of the building in 1963 and it still serves Central Carolina Community College today as Douglas H. Wilkinson Sr. Hall, named for an early trustee.
The Lee County Home for indigent adults, once located where the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center is, was renovated in 1966 to serve as the Adult Education Center. When Martin left in 1969, construction of the Library building, which still serves the campus and community, was already underway.
"Bill Martin was responsible for conceiving, designing and getting the construction started on that building, but it was finished after he left," Upchurch said. "Buildings were his long suit. He had good ideas for physical facilities."
Martin resigned Aug. 31, 1969, to return to school and earn a doctorate at Duke University. He went on to work at Durham Technical Community College as dean of instruction and, later, as the special assistant to the president. Martin retired in 1985 and passed away in Durham in 2006 at the age of 83. The first president of what became Central Carolina Community College is buried in Sanford, in the Euphonia Presbyterian Church cemetery.
"It's amazing what happened under Bill Martin's administration," Upchurch said of those early years. "He came and performed very well in setting up the school. He did an outstanding job."
Upchurch and Garner both said they have a sense of parental pride about the college.
"I see this school in an analogy of a baby and parent," Upchurch said. "Hubert, myself, and others helped Bill Martin give birth to it and raise it, and it's become an outstanding adult that people can look up to and respect."
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