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Halifax Community College (HCC) held an Inaugural Convocation and Investiture of its fourth president, Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr. Oct. 19 in The Centre. Community college representatives, government officials, community leaders, university and college delegates, and other distinguished guests were in attendance.

The event was described as a monumental and historic occasion, since Griffin is the first African-American president to serve at HCC. Speakers pledged unanimous support for Griffin during the proceedings. “It is a great day because we have all come together here with a common goal—the celebration of education. That's what this is really about,” said Representative Angela Bryant.

Speakers also offered nuggets of advice to Griffin in his role as president. These included not trying to please everyone, making time for self, walking away and taking a breath of fresh air, and having a sense of humor. According to Dr. Patricia Skinner, president of the N.C. Association of Community College Presidents, “Keep your words soft and sweet just in case you have to eat them.” She added that being a college president is a “daunting responsibility.”

Griffin was referred to as a man of vision and purpose and many have noticed that he “hit the ground running.” Currently, he is extremely active in the community, serving on the Halifax Horizons Workforce Development Board of Directors, Halifax-Warren Smart Start Partnership for Children Board, Halifax County Economic Development Commission Board (ex officio), Halifax County Educational Facilities Capital Improvement Planning Committee, The Commission on Marketing and Communication – American Association for Community Colleges (AACC), Area Health Educational Center Regional Advisory Board (AHEC), National Advisory Council of the American Student Association of Community Colleges, Roanoke Rapids Mill Community Advisory Council, and Roanoke Rapids Rotary Club.

“This is truly a celebration,” said N.C. Community College System President, H. Martin Lancaster. “Halifax Community College is a source of great pride to this service area, but it is also a source of important learning for the people of this area if they are to become a part of the economy of the future in North Carolina.”

Many program participants also said that Griffin had arrived in just the right place at the right time.

“It is really comforting to know that you're in the right place at the right time fulfilling the mission for Halifax Community College,” said Griffin. “As I said at our recent Founder's Day program, I owe a great deal to the presidents of Halifax Community College who… nurtured the vision of the college we see today.” Griffin also spotlighted HCC achievements of the past year and partnerships that have developed since his arrival last December. He added that he has found Roanoke Valley citizens to be warm and genuine and that he appreciated all of the support he has received. “I am living my dream,” concluded Griffin.

Program participants included HCC Instructor Chris Wright, the Southeast Halifax High School ROTC Color Guard, student Chris Tkacik, trustees Rev. Robert Knight, Rachel Hux and Lille Solomon, student Qiana Mann, Instructor Natalie Watson, Vice President Deborah Armstrong, Foundation Chair Charles McElheney, commissioners James Pierce and Virginia Spruill, Shannon and Michael Hawkins, Senator Ed Jones, representatives Angela Bryant, Michael Wray and Lucy Allen, and mayors Johnny Draper and Drewery Beale.

Also, N.C. State Board of Community Colleges Chair Hilda Pinnix-Ragland, Dr. Patricia Skinner, N.C. Association of Community College Trustees Director Dr. Donnie Hunter, Roanoke Valley Chamber President Allen Purser, Superintendent of Weldon City Schools Dr. Eli Bracy, President of Eastern Carolina Christian College Dr. Charles McCollum Sr., Rev. Sue Owens, Rev. Quientrell Burrell Jr., H. Martin Lancaster, Trustee William Jackson Boseman, III, HCC Trustee Chair Dr. Stanley Edwards, and Vice President Dr. Joy Cooley.

A reception honoring Griffin was held that evening in The Centre, followed by a concert by The Manhattans.