College News

CCCC-Harnett: focused on the future

Click to enlarge CCCC-Harnett: focused on the future

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Bill Tyson has worked at Central Carolina Community College for 28 years, the last nine as provost ... (more)

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John-Kevin Frazee, formerly of Dunn, graduated from Central Carolina Community College's Laser and ... (more)

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A 50,200-square-foot Central Carolina Community College Health Sciences Building is under construction ... (more)

Click to enlarge CCCC-Harnett: focused on the future

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Harnett County and Central Carolina Community College celebrated the opening of the college's West ... (more)

Click to enlarge CCCC-Harnett: focused on the future

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Harnett County and Central Carolina Community College celebrated the opening of the college's West ... (more)

05.30.2012College & CommunitySpecial Events

LILLINGTON - As Central Carolina Community College celebrates its 50th Anniversary, Bill Tyson, the college's provost for Harnett County, is both looking back at 28 years of service to the institution as well as forward to the future.

As provost, he balances the challenges of overseeing the college in Harnett County as it is now and having a major role in preparing it for the future. That includes hosting events such as a recent college tour for all eighth graders in the county public schools - almost 1,500 of them.

It was a challenge, but it's a job Tyson does gladly. Many, if not most, of those students will be taking classes from the college in Harnett in the not-too-distant future.

"We want to make sure they understand where we can help them," he said, then added with a proud smile. "There's no better place to start their vocational training or university preparation than CCCC."

That's the message he enjoys sharing with everyone in Harnett County - and beyond.

Tyson came to what was then Central Carolina Technical College in 1984 as a basic skills instructor in the college's program at Harnett Correctional Institution. He became director of Correctional Education at the facility in 1986 and was promoted to associate dean in 1999. When Robert Garrett, the college's first Harnett County provost, retired in 2003, Tyson became only the second person to serve in that position.

CCCC started as the Lee County Industrial Education Center, offering its first vocational extension classes in 1961. It expanded into Harnett in 1965 with vocational and adult education programs.

The enrollment grew rapidly and, in 1982, the county purchased land on East Cornelius Harnett Boulevard for the Harnett County Campus. The first building, Continuing Education, opened in 1985. Growth has been rapid since then.

When Tyson became provost, the college had three buildings on the Harnett Campus: Continuing Education, Bob R. Etheridge Advanced Technology Center, and the Samuel R. Miriello Administration Building. It also operated a West Harnett Center and Cosmetology School in rented spaces.

Under Tyson, the 15,840-square-foot Classroom Building 4 was completed on the Harnett Campus in 2005. The Continuing Education Building underwent a major renovation and received a brick facade in 2008 to match the other campus buildings. The 8,500-square-foot West Harnett Center opened in 2008 - and is adding classrooms and programs to serve the burgeoning population in the western area of the county. College and Career Readiness programs moved to the Lillington Adult Education Center (the former Shawtown School) to better serve the community.

The 50,200-square-foot state-of-the-art Health Sciences Building is under construction in the Brightwater Science and Technology Campus, in Lillington, and will open for classes in fall 2013. When the health programs move into that facility, engineering will be able to expand into the space they vacate on the main campus.

"Bill Tyson has been critical to the on-going success of the college in Harnett," said CCCC President Bud Marchant. "He has the vision, the leadership, and the commitment that has led the college in Harnett in its continued impressive growth not only in physical facilities and programs, but also in service to its communities."

In 1987, the college in Harnett partnered with the county and Dunn Area Committee of 100 to create the Triangle South Enterprise Center. The Center is still a thriving business incubator, helping small businesses to become successful, create jobs and contribute to the economic health of their communities. Nancy Blackman, of Dunn, the college's Harnett Small Business Center director, has also directed the TSEC since 1990.

"Nancy has done extraordinary work on behalf of her college and community in helping to create and sustain small businesses in Harnett," the provost said.

Tyson worked with inmates at the Harnett Correctional Institution for 19 years before becoming provost. He still works closely with the educational program at HCI. With excellent educational opportunities, it has built a reputation as a place to make a fresh start and gain marketable job skills.

"The goal is to prepare the inmates to be productive, contributing, law-abiding citizens when they are released back into society," he said.

As the county population grows, so does CCCC enrollment. In 2003, there were about 375 students in Harnett curriculum programs; now it's pushing 1,000. About 25 percent of those are students earning university transfer credits or associate degrees to continue their educations at four-year institutions.

About 8,0000-10,000 students enroll annually in the college's continuing education programs in Harnett, almost half of the college's total enrollment hours in those programs.

"For the near future healthcare education and engineering are the programs we will hang our hats on in Harnett," Tyson said, "but we continue to offer a wide spectrum of university transfer, curriculum and continuing education, vocational and enrichment programs."

Healthcare education programs at CCCC-Harnett, both continuing education and curriculum, are growing because of the rapid expansion of healthcare-related education and service providers in what Tyson calls the "Lillington-Dunn Highway 421 healthcare corridor."

He describes the corridor as a "hub of healthcare training," including the college's Health Sciences Building, Harnett Health System's Central Campus and Betsy Johnson hospitals, Campbell University's School of Osteopathic Medicine, East Carolina University's Dental School, Good Hope Hospital's mental health facility, doctors' offices, and other healthcare-related businesses. These will enrich the training of CCCC healthcare students, offer employment to graduates, and add to the economic viability of the county, he said.

As for engineering, Tyson said the Harnett Campus has the only laser and photonics program at a North Carolina community college. It is one of only about a dozen in the nation to train students on high-power lasers. More companies, such as semiconductor manufacturer Cree, Inc., continue to move into the Raleigh area, increasing the demand for graduates. There is also a great demand for graduates of the welding and machining programs.

"There are great things happening in Harnett," Tyson said. "What I've tried to do as provost is make as many opportunities as possible available to students so they can get the training they need here rather than having to go elsewhere. When you make necessary changes and give access to education and the folks respond, you know you've done something right. The future is bright for CCCC in Harnett and that contributes to a better future for the county, its businesses and residents."