ACC groundbreaking

The Alamance Community College Board of Trustees turns the dirt during the ceremonial groundbreaking event, marking the commencement of construction on the college's new Students Services Center on Friday, October 22.

Alamance Community College (ACC) held a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony kicking off construction of the school’s new $6.7 million Student Services Center on Friday, October 22.

The new, two-story, 12,203 square-foot building will house the community college’s admissions and financial aid departments, the office of the registrar and the office of the Vice President for Student Success all under the same roof. 

The Student Services Center, which will sit adjacent to the current main building and is intended to serve as the new entrance to the heart of ACC’s campus, is projected to open in fall 2022. The project comes on the heels of Alamance County citizens voting in favor of 2018 education bonds.

Dr. Algie Gatewood, ACC president, opened the ceremony by expressing the need for the Student Services Center and the importance of its completion.

“Now you’ll see the heavy equipment out here and all the orange cones – we’ve had some things in play for a while,” Gatewood said. “But we really want to complete this project as expeditiously as we can, because it’s so desperately needed. On behalf of the Alamance Community College Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and our students, allow me to thank the citizens of this great county who made this project possible.”

Gatewood then introduced some of the distinguished guests who were invited to attend the ceremony.

The ACC Board of Trustees, NC Community College System President Thomas Stith III, Alamance County State Representatives Dennis Riddell and Ricky Hurtado and the county’s State Senator, Amy Scott Galey, were all in attendance.

Various members of the Alamance County Board of Commissioners, former county commissioners, former ACC trustees and local elected officials from various municipalities also attended.

Gary Hubler, principal with the FWA Group Architects, who were contracted as the architect firm for the project, and Dave Anna, founder of Resolute Building Company, the construction contractor for the project, were also in attendance.

Following introductions, Gatewood called the celebration of the construction of the new center a “historic milestone” for the college.

“This groundbreaking ceremony for the new Student Services Center building serves as a reminder of what community college is all about, and that is access, hope, opportunity and jobs…” he said. “Our goal in constructing this new building is to make enrolling, receiving help, applying for financial aid and paying for college as seamless as possible. This building removes many barriers by providing all those services in one place.”

ACC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Roslyn Crisp spoke next. Crisp remarked that the college and its trustees have understood for years that ACC needed a “centralized area” where students can start their college process.

“ACC’s vision statement declares, and I quote, ‘From access to success, transforming lives, and the communities we serve,’” Crisp said. “The Student Services Center supports that mission to expand access to higher education, providing a welcoming, highly visible place on campus dedicated to helping students to begin their college careers.”

Crisp added that the center represents ACC’s “continued commitment to meeting the needs of the thousands of students who enroll here each year.”

Next up was Alamance County Board of Commissioners Chair John Paisley. He touched on the value ACC holds not only for Alamance County but for the entire state.

“This new facility, and the college itself, is so, so positive for this county and the whole community in the entire state,” Paisley said.

Paisley also noted that he himself took two courses at ACC, and that both of his grandchildren completed high school with associate degrees from ACC, which saved them money that was set aside for post-graduate studies.

NC Community College System President, Thomas Stith III, was next to deliver remarks. Stith III first mentioned how much he enjoyed being at ACC, before touching on how the construction of the new center comes at a pivotal time.

“This groundbreaking of this new Student Services Building comes at a critical time in our state’s history,” Stith III said. “Communities across the state are engaging our students, and it is buildings like this that will serve as a hub not only to meet academic needs but the student needs that we as community colleges meet each and every day.”

Stith III added that NC community colleges, from 2009 to 2019, over 33 percent of the state’s workforce was touched by the state’s community college system.

“1.7 million students are participating in our workforce as of 2020, that translated into $60 billion [into the economy]” he said. “So, when we speak about investing in the North Carolina Community College System and investing in our students, we’re investing in our communities, in our economy.”

All three of Alamance County’s state legislative representatives – Representatives Riddle and Hurtado and Senator Galey – delivered remarks. 

Riddle spoke first, thanking Gatewood for the progress made at ACC under his watch. Riddle also talked about how his mother instilled a “romance of education,” a love of learning in him that the new center, hopefully, will help students discover and nurture that romance and love, too.

“With this place, this new facility, the Student Services Center, I think we’re opening the doors for a lot of young people, and other people retooling their careers, to enjoy and, maybe, discover anew that romance of education,” Riddle said.

Hurtado then spoke, touching on the importance of ACC and the community college system in developing the future of the state’s workforce. He noted that the Student Services Center is an investment in the future, because it will be there to assist students throughout college, not just at the beginning.

“I recognize the importance of the center because, as a community, we often think about what it takes for kids to get into college,” Hurtado said. “But we rarely talk about what it what it takes for those students to get through college.”

Galey spoke next, thanking the innumerable folks who have dedicated their lives to moving ACC, and in turn the whole county, forward. She noted that the average age of a community college student is 25 and explained how the new center will be a great help to nontraditional students.

“Many times, older learners are reluctant to return to school because they’re intimidated by the facility, by the physical presence of it, by younger students and feeling like they’re going to be judged,” Scott said. “Hopefully, it will create a warm and welcoming environment where people will feel that they can get the help and the resources that they need to continue with their education.”

ACC Director of Enrollment Management Elizabeth Brehler then delivered remarks. Brehler said ACC has a goal of taking students from where they are to where they want to be and, she noted, that starts with the “front door experience.”

“The campus visit experience for prospective students is one of the most important components of our student recruitment activities and efforts on campus,” she said. “Having this new state-of-the-art, more centralized Student Services [Center] will ensure that their first impression is a lasting impression.”

Ruth Mann, University Transfer student, then spoke on the behalf of ACC students. Mann is also a Career and College Promise student, which enables her to earn an associate degree by the time she graduates high school. Mann noted the new center is a step toward more accessibility for all students.

“I believe that this new Student Services Building will be a huge step forward for ACC in making some key departments, offices and personnel more accessible to students,” Mann said. “By placing so many departments at the front of the college in a single location, students will save time out of their busy days to meet one-on-one with staff, financial aid, admissions and the business office, to name a few.”

Gatewood then introduced the three groups of ceremonial groundbreaking participants and delivered the closing remarks. The groups then took turns turning the dirt, signifying the commencement of construction on the project.