NC Community College System and Durham Tech History

North Carolina Community College System History

The community college system was created by legislation passed by the 1963 General Assembly of North Carolina. The legislation provided that the system of community colleges and technical institutes would be administered by a Department of Community Colleges under the State Board of Education. In March 1981, supervision of the community college system became the responsibility of the State Board of Community Colleges.

The community college system in North Carolina provides educational experiences for those people who are 18 years of age or older, whether or not they are high school graduates. The educational opportunities range from instruction in basic literacy skills to college-level courses, including general education and occupational, technical, and university transfer programs. These opportunities are available to all adults who wish to learn and who can profit from instruction provided.

In 1964, Dr. Dallas Herring, former chair of the State Board of Education, developed a statement of philosophy for North Carolina community colleges, which is published in the Department of Community Colleges Policy Manual. Dr. Herring stated:

“The only valid philosophy for North Carolina is the philosophy of total education: a belief in the incomparable worth of all human beings, whose claims upon the state are equal before the law and equal before the bar of public opinion, whose talents (however great or however limited or however different from the traditional) the state needs and must develop to the fullest possible degree.

“That is why the doors to the institutions in North Carolina’s system of community colleges must never be closed to anyone of suitable age who can learn what they teach.

“We must take the people where they are and carry them as far as they can go within the assigned function of the system.

“If they cannot read, then we will simply teach them to read and make them proud of their achievement.

“If they did not finish high school, but have a mind to do it, then we will offer them a high school education at a time and in a place convenient to them and at a price within their reach.

“If their talent is technical or vocational, then we simply offer them instruction, whatever the field, however complex or however simple, that will provide them with the knowledge and the skill they can sell in the marketplace of our state, and thereby contribute to its scientific and industrial growth.

“If their needs are in the great tradition of liberal education, then we will simply provide them the instruction extending through two years of standard college work which will enable them to go on to the university or to the senior college, and on into life, in numbers unheard of in North Carolina.

"If their needs are for cultural advancement, intellectual growth, or civic understanding, then we will simply make available to them the wisdom of the ages and the enlightenment of our times and help them on to maturity.”

Durham Technical Community College History

Durham Technical Community College is a charter member of the North Carolina Community College System. When the North Carolina General Assembly authorized a small appropriation to establish a limited number of area schools to be known as industrial education centers in 1957, Durham already had a vigorous program in adult education through the Vocational and Adult Education Department of the Durham City Schools. A Practical Nursing program had been established in 1948; other programs included training in mechanical drafting, architectural drafting, and electronics technology. In addition, literacy skills training was offered for adults. Courses to upgrade the skills of workers were also offered in a variety of trades.

As a result of the General Assembly’s appropriation, a challenge went out from the State Board of Education to the various school administrative units in North Carolina to establish separate education facilities which would provide for the educational needs of the area’s adult population. A comprehensive curriculum was devised for people needing the education and technical skills required to advance satisfactorily in their careers.

Through action by the Durham City Board of Education, Durham was among the first of six counties in North Carolina to meet the State Board of Education’s challenge. In a successful referendum in June 1958, Durham County residents made $500,000 available to purchase a site and erect the initial building. The Durham Industrial Education Center officially opened its doors on September 5, 1961. The institution continued to operate as an Industrial Education Center until February 4, 1965, when the State Board of Education officially designated that henceforth it be properly identified as a technical institute. On March 30, 1965, the Board of Trustees authorized changing the name of the institution to Durham Technical Institute. On July 15, 1986, the North Carolina General Assembly approved Durham Tech’s request to add a university transfer program to its curriculum offerings. During a meeting on July 22, 1986, the Board of Trustees authorized the institution to change its name to Durham Technical Community College.

Durham Technical Community College has had four presidents: Harold K. Collins (1961-1975), John Crumpton (1975-1980), Phail Wynn, Jr. (1980-2007), and William G. Ingram (2008-present). The college’s Board of Trustees has been chaired by six individuals: Robert L. Lyon, Edward L. Phillips, George W. Newton, James L. Nicholson, Jesse B. Anglin, Mary Ann Peter, and MaryAnn Black.

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Durham Tech catalogs, yearbooks, newsletters, annual reports, and other documents are archived at the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.