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PHCC's new president eager to reach out
Godwin talks of plans during her first day on the job
Retired PHCC President Max Wingett (right) leads the new president, Angeline Godwin, on a campus tour. (Contributed photo)
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
There are just two types of people — students and nonstudents — in the world, according to Dr. Angeline Godwin.
As the new president of Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC), she aims to reach out to both.
Everyone wants to learn something, whether it is skills needed to do jobs or knowledge they seek to fulfill personal interests, Godwin said. Whatever the reasons they want to learn, PHCC wants to help them and is ready to do so, she said.
Classes were not in session Monday, Godwin’s first day on the job. Yet based on what she already has learned from faculty members, Godwin said she knows PHCC students are unyielding about improving themselves and their abilities to get jobs in the modern, technology-driven work force.
From the perspective of a college president, Godwin said, “Students are the only reason I am here. A major priority for me is to be accessible to students. I want them to know who I am, and I want to know them” personally.
Getting to know students is the way college presidents find out if the work they are doing to help students further their learning is worthwhile, she said.
Most students are “very open and candid with you” about what works in the classroom and what does not, she added.
Godwin plans to mingle with students on campus as much as possible and set aside time on a regular basis — at a place on campus where they know she will be — to meet with students one-on-one.
She would like to teach some courses, too, she said. She has more than 20 years of classroom experience at the college and secondary school levels.
Education is “my first love,” Godwin said, explaining why she wanted to get back into higher education after stints in economic development and running a family-owned small business in Mississippi.
Teaching is the foundation of that love. Godwin, 52, recalled playing school with her pets and dolls while growing up in Alabama.
She did not set out to become an educational administrator. But while she was a teacher, “I started writing grants because I wanted some stuff for my class,” she said, laughing. Her talents for writing and researching grants were noticed, and opportunities for her to move up the career ladder happened.
Godwin is a former president of Ashland Community College in Kentucky.
She said she wanted to be PHCC’s president because Virginia’s community college system is strong and the college is regarded as a national leader in “cooperative learning,” a process in which students work together in the classroom to help one another learn with guidance from instructors.
Godwin also has been the dean of arts and sciences at Jackson State Community College in Tennessee and vice president for research and economic development at the University of Southern Mississippi.
She has led both regional and state economic development organizations, including the Mississippi Technology Alliance, which works to attract, create, retain and expand businesses heavily involved with science and technology.
As the entity that teaches area residents skills they need for jobs with local companies, PHCC “must be part of the economic development equation” and be ready to quickly meet the needs of future companies, Godwin said.
Yet everyone — not just college and government officials and local business leaders — has a role in recruiting businesses and industries, she emphasized.
Economic development is a complicated process, Godwin said, but it is well-known that companies like to locate in places that look nice and where there is a good quality of life for workers. For that reason, she said, residents can help by keeping their properties looking nice and telling visitors they meet about the area’s attractions and other amenities.
That stranger who stops you on the street and asks what the community has to offer could be the person who brings a bunch of jobs and eventually becomes your boss, she noted. Or, that person might decide not to bring those jobs here, based on what he hears from residents.
In such situations, Godwin said, “you’re being interviewed and you don’t even know it,” so it is important to keep a positive attitude.
Godwin wants to strengthen the college’s relationship with the New College Institute (NCI), a state- and Harvest Foundation-funded school in Martinsville that provides local access to higher-level courses toward certain bachelor’s and master’s degrees conferred by universities throughout Virginia.
The idea, local leaders have said, is for students to go to PHCC for their first two years of courses toward a bachelor’s degree and then go to NCI for their junior and senior years of coursework.
Godwin envisions a time when area residents can earn high school diplomas, community college associate degrees, bachelor’s and master’s degrees and — someday — doctorates without having to leave Henry County-Martinsville.
That would really help economic development efforts, she said.
PHCC “hopes to build strong partnerships” with the institute, Godwin said. “What’s good for NCI is good for PHCC. We’re seed corn for them.”
“I hope they see us as a resource for them,” she continued. “That’s what we want to be to them.”
Higher education institutions must work together, she said, because due to limited resources and their specified missions, “I don’t believe one institution can do everything” to meet a community’s educational needs.