RALEIGH - K. Ray Bailey of Fairview is the winner of the 2018 I.E. Ready Award, the highest honor bestowed by the State Board of Community Colleges.
The board announced winners of the Ready, President of the Year, Excellence in Teaching, Staff of the Year and Distinguished Partners in Excellence awards at its Jan. 19 meeting.
Named for Isaac Epps Ready, the first state director of the North Carolina Community College System, the award was created in 1983 to recognize individuals who have made significant, statewide contributions to the establishment, development or enhancement of the system.
Bailey worked at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College from 1966-2007, and was the college's president from 1990 until his retirement. During Bailey's presidency, AB-Tech grew to encompass three campuses that collectively enrolled more than 25,000 students. The college also added more than 30 degree and diploma programs and constructed a computer technology center to house the state's first digital media technology program. In 2000, Bailey created the college's Enka campus through a donation from BASF Corp. The company's gift of 37 acres and three buildings was the largest-ever donation of property to a community college in the United States. After retiring from AB-Tech, Bailey remained involved with the community college system. He served on the State Board of Community Colleges from 2009-2015 and was elected vice chair for two years. He also chaired the board's Finance Committee from 2011-2015.
In addition to Bailey, the following people and institutions received awards:
- President of the Year: Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of Vance-Granville Community College in Henderson. With significant grant funding secured under Williams' leadership, VGCC launched a major initiative to develop innovative training programs for advanced manufacturing careers. Since becoming president in 2012, Williams also has been a champion for the college's use of technology to provide greater academic offerings and support to its students. In addition, she introduced the VanGuarantee, a need-based scholarship program designed to cover tuition, student fees and textbooks for eligible students. The program has garnered national attention and was highlighted by the White House in 2016.
- Excellence in Teaching Award: Michael Dixon, lead instructor of welding at Surry Community College in Dobson. Since joining Surry's faculty in August 2013, Dixon has helped transform the college's welding program. During his tenure, the number of students in the program has grown from 12 to 100, and the college now has a state-of-art welding facility. In addition, welding students' completion rate has increased; for the 2016-17 academic year, the diploma retention rate reached a high of 72.72 percent and certificate retention was 79.6 percent. Dixon also is active in the community. Paralyzed as the result of an accident nearly 25 years ago, he volunteers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, helping others who have suffered spinal cord injuries and amputations.
- Staff of the Year: Dr. Kai Wang, senior dean of strategic innovations, Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh. Wang was instrumental in the creation of Wake Tech's simulation and game development program and obtained a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support its development. The program offers training and workforce development opportunities to more than 300 students a year for high-tech jobs in Research Triangle Park and the video-game industry. Wang also created the nation's first two-year degree in business analytics and secured $2.9 million in federal funding to support it. The program helps the college meet workforce demand in the big data industry. Wang also has served as a mentor in Wake Tech's Leadership Development Capstone projects.
- Distinguished Partners in Excellence: Wayne UNC Health Care and Wayne Community College in Goldsboro. The relationship between WCC and Wayne UNC Health Care dates to at least 1965, when the hospital was known as Wayne Memorial and the college began offering a practical nursing program. Over the past 50-plus years, the college and the hospital have partnered to build and maintain a workforce of health care professionals. The college now offers many medical programs that provide potential employees to Wayne UNC Health Care and its affiliated practices. The hospital's support includes funding for scholarships, supplies and equipment, and serving as a training site. Including in-kind contributions, since 2004 the hospital has given more than $1.36 million to the college. Each year, the hospital hires about half of WCC's new nursing graduates.