CCCC joins in celebration of Dallas Herring, father of N.C. community colleges

Mar. 08, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

Central Carolina Community College has honored Dr. W. Dallas Herring, the educator known as the philosophical father of the North Carolina Community College System, with an unveiling of his portrait at the college’s Lee County Campus. 

The System office and the 58 community colleges across the state recognized March 6 as “Dallas Herring Day,” honoring his influence in making the state’s community colleges what they are: institutions providing comprehensive education.

Herring served as chair of the State Board of Education from 1955 to 1977. In 1963, the General Assembly established the NCCCS. Herring was instrumental in the creation of the community college system on the philosophy that education should be available to all and that community colleges should “….take people from where they are and carry them as far as they can go.” 

Dr. Marvin R. Joyner, president of Central Carolina Community College from 1983 to 2004, remembers Herring well.

“He was my graduation speaker when I graduated from Wilson Technical Community College in 1962,” Joyner said. “I knew him professionally from then until he passed away in 2007.” 

Joyner said that community colleges were created as vocational schools. Many people were concerned that if they became comprehensive, the focus would shift to college transfer programs instead of vocational training.

“Dallas fought for community colleges to be comprehensive,” Joyner said. “That was a hard sell back in those days. It took a real champion of the idea to fight for it. He had a vision of North Carolina and a real vision of the education person. He didn’t believe in just training people, but in educating them. He felt education should stress educating the whole person. We would not have a comprehensive community college system today without Dallas Herring.” 

Richard Modicue, of Lillington, is one of the hundreds of thousands of students who have benefited from Herring’s vision and commitment. Modicue is CCCC’s 2013 nominee for the NCCCS’ Dallas Herring Achievement Award. The Desert Storm/Desert Shield Army veteran said that five years ago he had been out of school for 30 years and was “going nowhere fast.” Then he saw an ad for CCCC on television and decided to act.

“Dr. Herring said it best,” he said. “Take people from having nothing to having a college degree if they are willing to apply themselves. I think that from where you come from to where you end up plays a major part in how you see things in life. Because of Dr. Herring’s vision of community colleges and the help I received along the way from teachers and counselors, the sky’s the limit. I can go as far as I want.” 

Modicue is one credit away from his Human Services degree and is already taking classes toward a Bachelor of Social Work at Methodist University. He plans to become a substance abuse counselor.

“Dallas Herring was a visionary who understood that education could be a defining factor in a person’s life,” says Dr. Scott Ralls, N.C. Community College System president. “His legacy has brought us to where we are today – one of the most comprehensive community college systems in the nation, educating people of all ages, training the state’s workforce and providing college transfer opportunities.” 

The N.C. Community College System office commissioned Herring’s portrait as part of the System’s 50th Anniversary celebration. Copies were sent to each of the state’s community colleges. Duplin Winery and the North Carolina Community Colleges Foundation sponsored the portraits.

In honor of Herring, the State Board of Community Colleges has also renamed its regular meeting room as the Dr. W. Dallas Herring State Board Room.